Sony has agreed to settle a case with the Federal Trade Commission over misleading advertising for the PS Vita. Though Sony still disputes the claims, it decided to settle the inquiry in order to preserve holiday sales. “Although we have a strong difference of opinion with the FTC as to the message that PS Vita purchasers took from that advertising,” Sony told PC World in an email, “we decided to settle the FTCs inquiry in order to focus on the PlayStation 4s momentum into this holiday, where PlayStation Vita continues to play an important role.”

The disputed advertising shows features like “Remote Play” functionality, a feature which allows players to stream PS3 games from their console to their Vita from any Wi-fi connection. This however only worked for certain games, ones for which the developers chose to include remote playability. Advertising around the time of Vita’s launch showed the handheld system playing Killzone 3, despite the fact that game is not remote play enabled. “Very few, if any, other PS3 games of similar size and complexity are remote play compatible,” the FTC found in its ruling. You can read their entire claim here.

The FTC complaint lists other misleading elements in Vita’s advertising, such as being able to pause a PS3 game at any time and continue that same game from a Vita, so-called “cross platform” capability. In reality only few games had the feature and typically with strings attached. You could only pause and continue a game in MLB 12: The Show, for instance, after playing a full 9-inning game on PS3. You also needed to own a copy of the game on both systems, a fact omitted from Sony’s advertising. Vita also claimed you could access real-time online multiplayer if you bought the more expensive 3G enabled Vita and subscribed to AT&T’s broadband network. The only games playable online however are turned-based, contradicting the Vita’s ads suggesting otherwise.

The FTC also targeted Deutsch LA, the advertising firm which handled the PS Vita’s ad campaigns. In a separate action the FTC charged that the firm “knew or should have known that the advertisements it produced contained misleading claims about the console’s cross-platform and 3G capabilities.” It was also found that the firm issued a company-wide email to all staff, asking them to praise the Vita on Twitter with the hashtag #gamechanger, before the handheld’s launch. The employees in their tweets did not reveal their connection to either Sony or Deutsch LA and in posing as regular consumers they violated the FTC’s endorsement guidelines. The FTC in settling with both Deutsch LA and Sony have barred both from making such claims in the future, “misrepresenting that an endorser of any game console product or video game product is an independent user or ordinary consumer of the product,” said the FTC complaint. Deutsch LA in settling has not recognized violating any laws.

Sony has agreed to give $50 in credit or $25 cash to all who purchased the Vita before June 1, 2012. Those eligible will be notified via email. A system for reimbursement has yet to be announced. The videos posted below include the promo material for the Vita listing all its features and a Deutsch LA produced Vita commercial from 2012. The final video was released just days ago claiming you can play PS4 on your roof via an Experia smartphone. Printed in small letters in the commercial and on Sony’s website is a clause which reads: “Some games may not support this feature.”

About The Author

Staff Writer

Alex is from New York, is a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and once played a Call of Duty Deathmatch against himself.

  • Nonscpo

    Good if you screw over your customers and lie to them you should pay back some form of reparation.

    • Nick Caminita

      Yea. I personally wasn’t too mad about the whole issue, but there were alot of people who were livid about the lack of cross compatibility with PS3.