Not even Sony is immune to a slap from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for deceptive advertising tied to its boastful ads claiming a “game changing” technology behind the PlayStation Vita handheld console.
No, the FTC says, it wasn’t a game-changing technology
The PS Vita launched in late 2011 and early 2012. It is a handheld gaming device that Sony first sold in the U.S. in February 2012 for about $250. Unlike the PS3, which allows consumers to play video games on a television, the PS Vita is portable and enables gamers to play untethered to a television screen.
Not exactly a revolutionary device, the FTC says. Sony Computer Entertainment America (“Sony”) has agreed to settle FTC charges that it deceived consumers with false advertising claims about technological features of its PlayStation Vita.
Under its settlement with the FTC, Sony is barred from making similarly misleading advertising claims in the future, and will provide consumers who bought a PS Vita gaming console before June 1, 2012, either a $25 cash or credit refund, or a $50 merchandise voucher for select video games — and/or services.
Sony will provide notice via email to consumers who are eligible for compensation after the settlement is finalized by the Federal Trade Commission.
“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,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC will not hesitate to act on behalf of consumers when companies or advertisers make false product claims.”
As part of its launch campaign for the PS Vita, Sony claimed that the pocket-sized console would revolutionize gaming mobility by enabling consumers to play their PlayStation 3 games via “remote play. Sony also said gamers could engage in “cross platform” play by starting a game on a PS3 and then continuing it on the go, right where they left off, on a PS Vita. The FTC alleges that each of these claims was misleading. Making sure that these claims are legitimate is an important step in any advertiser’s workflow. Just as sites attached to other parts of the gaming world, like boostingboss.com, would not overstep what they can offer, so too should Sony and other giants of the industry.
In a related action, the Commission charged that Deutsch LA, Sony’s advertising agency for the PS Vita launch, knew or should have known that the advertisements it produced contained misleading claims about the console’s cross platform and 3G capabilities.