Happen to purchase a PlayStation Vita handheld console before June 1, 2012? If so, then Sony owes you a small refund of $25 in cash or credit. If that's not good enough, customers can instead opt for a $50 voucher for purchasing select games, signing up with PlayStation Plus or other Sony services and products.
So what gives? Why is Sony handing out money and vouchers to PS Vita owners? It's part of an agreement Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) made with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in regards to false advertisement claims. More specifically, Sony and advertisement firm Deutsch LA are accused of falsely promoting the PlayStation handheld in a campaign that took place in late 2011 to early 2012.
According to SCEA, the FTC had a problem with the way the PS Vita's "game changing" cross-save tech was advertised. The company claimed that players could start a game on the PlayStation 3, pause it, and then resume the game on the PS Vita when on-the-go. The company failed to reveal that customers must own both versions of the same (PS3, PS Vita), and failed to indicate that this feature only worked on several titles, not all of them.
The FTC also alleged that despite Sony's advertisement, most of the PlayStation 3 games cannot be remotely played on the PS Vita. The advertisement also indicated that customers could remotely play Killzone 3 on the PS Vita, but Sony allegedly never enabled Remote Play for that title.
In addition to SCEA, the FTC also had an issue with Deutsch LA. The advertising firm instructed its employees to generate positive updates and excitement about the handheld console on Twitter, but did not tell them to disclose their ties to the firm. The FTC also believes that Deutsch LA knew or should have known that the PS Vita advertisement was misleading in regards to playing cross platform.
Both SCEA and Deutsch LA are now ordered not to make more misrepresentations in the future, nor can employees get on Twitter and generate positive hype without identifying their ties to SCEA and Deutsch LA. SCEA must also try to contact all consumers by email who purchased the PS Vita before June 1, 2012.
"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."
The PS Vita isn't exactly the big seller SCEA had hoped for. However, Sony UK chief Fergal Gara recently told Eurogamer that the handheld console is "trucking along" and that sales are "robust and consistent." At the time, Sony expected to see even bigger growth once Minecraft hit the PS Vita in October. This edition supports cross-play with the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 versions.