Sony is no stranger to over-the-top advertising. their recent ad had to be yanked for being a bit to risqué, and those PlayStation 9 commercials ahead of the PS2 launch were pretty impressive. When Sony released their PS Vita, a lot was promised, including the ability to play console games on the go. Today, the Federal Trade Commission and Sony have settled a claim that those ads were misleading, if not downright false. PS Vita consumers are also due a refund for the snafu.
According to the FTC, Sony and its ad agency, Deutsche LA, Inc., released ads that “deceived people into buying a product that didn’t work as promised.” Here’s the core takeaway from the complaint, as laid out in an FTC blog post:
In 2012, Sony and its advertising agency, Deutsch LA, Inc., promoted the PS Vita on the internet and in promotional videos, TV commercials and stores. Ads said you would “Never stop playing” and showed users enjoying the “remote play,” “cross save” and real-time 3G features. But the FTC says that despite the ads’ promises, customers really couldn’t use remote play to run most PS3 games on the PS Vita — not even Killzone 3, the popular PS3 game Sony featured in its promotional video explaining remote play. And the claims that you could “cross save” by pausing a game on one system and resuming it on another? Sony didn’t tell that you actually had to have two copies of the same game for this feature to work. What about the live, multiplayer game sessions that looked exciting in the ads? The PS Vita couldn’t do that, even if you bought the 3G version.
In the agreement, Sony is barred from making similarly outlandish claims via advertising. PS Vita owners who purchased a console before June 1, 2012 are eligible for a $25 cash/credit refund, or a $50 voucher towards select games “and/or services”. If that’s you, expect an email from Sony as to how to claim your settlement.
Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said “As we enter the year’s biggest shopping period, companies need to be reminded that if they make product promises to consumers — as Sony did with the “game changing” features of its PS Vita — they must deliver on those pledges”. Between the hacked apps and media site, pulled ads, and FTC settlement here, it’s not a good week for Sony.