Refund Coming to Early PS Vita Buyers as Sony Settles With FTC Over False Advertising

If you bought your PlayStation Vita in the United States before June 1, 2012, you have some money coming your way.

After Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges regarding deceiving false advertising claims about the “game changing” features of the PlayStation Vita in late 2011/early 2012, anyone who bought their Vita before June 1, 2012, will receive a $25 cash or credit refund, or a $50 merchandise voucher for select video games, and/or services. Once the settlement is finalized by the Commission, Sony will send emails to everyone who is eligible for the refund.

So what was the misleading advertising? Well, it has to do with Sony saying the PlayStation Vita would allow owners to play their PlayStation 3 games via Remote Play, and that cross-platform play would allow you to start a game on PS3, then continue where you left off on PS Vita. As you can read in the FTC’s complaint against SCEA, only a few PS3 games could use the cross-platform play, while the pause-and-save feature varied by game.

They add:

For example, with respect to “MLB 12: The Show,” consumers could only save the game to the PS Vita after finishing the entire nine-inning game on their PS3. In addition, Sony failed to inform consumers that to use this feature, purchasers had to buy two versions of the same game – one for their PS3 and one for the PS Vita.

For Remote Play, the FTC says “most PS3 games were not Remote Playable on the PS Vita,” and Sony misled consumers by saying Killzone 3 could be Remote Played on PS Vita. In reality, this feature never came to Killzone 3, and “very few, if any, PS3 games of similar size and complexity were remote playable on the PS Vita.”

The complaint also extends to the 3G features of certain PS Vita systems, with Sony falsely implying you could play live, online multiplayer through 3G. ” In fact, consumers could not engage in live, multiplayer gaming.”

Things get worse, as the FTC filed a complaint against advertising firm Deutsch LA, who also mislead consumers by creating the ads for cross-platform play and the 3G features. The FTC specifically highlights the agency using #gamechanger in Twitter ads, which were deemed misleading as they didn’t accurately represent the views of people who actually owned the PS Vita, and the people behind the tweets didn’t disclose they were employees of Deutsch LA.

In addition to the refund for early adopters, Sony and Deutsch LA are prohibited from making future misrepresentations when promoting the features or capabilities of handheld consoles.

What do you think of this whole settlement?

[Source: FTC via GamesBeat, Video highlights the false advertising]