Sony’s #Gamechanger Misled Consumers, FTC Says

November 26th, 2014

Consumers who purchased a PlayStation Vita gaming console before June 2012 are eligible for a $25 refund or $50 in merchandise as part of a $12 million settlement between Sony and the FTC that resolves allegations that the company falsely advertised the “game changing” technologies of the handheld device.

The government agency said in a press release:

The FTC’s complaint against Sony charges the company with making false claims about the PS Vita’s “cross platform gaming” or “cross-save” feature. Sony claimed, for example, that PS Vita users could pause any PS3 game at any time and continue to play the game on their PS Vita from where they left off. This feature, however, was only available for a few PS3 games, and the pause-and-save capability described in the ads varied significantly from game to game.

Ads also “falsely implied” that the 3G version of PS Vita would allow for live, multi-player gaming through a 3G network, when that was not true, the FTC said.

In a separate complaint against Deutsch LA, Sony’s advertising agency at the time of the PS Vita launch, the FTC alleged that employees of the firm misled consumers by failing to disclose their connection to the ad agency or Sony when they tweeted about the PS Vita on personal Twitter accounts with the hashtag “#gamechanger.”

The Switch technology blog at the Washington Post reports that this is the first time the FTC has taken action against a company for advertising on Twitter.

The announcement of the settlement comes three days before what is arguably the busiest shopping day of the year: Black Friday.

“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.

Sony said in a statement to TINA.org:

Although we have a strong difference of opinion with the FTC as to the message that PS Vita purchasers took from that advertising, we decided to settle the FTC’s inquiry in order to focus on the PlayStation 4’s momentum into this holiday, where PlayStation Vita continues to play an important role.

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