Sony's Original Vita Ads Were Misleading, Says US Government

Sony's Original Vita Ads Were Misleading, Says U.S. Government

Sony has agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over claims that the company falsely advertised its PlayStation Vita console when it was first released in 2012. The company is now required to issue refunds to Vita customers affected by the advertising.

As spelled in a blog post, the "main point" of the FTC's complaint -- which is directed at both Sony and its relevant advertising agency, Deutsch LA -- is that "the PS Vita ads deceived people into buying a product that didn't work as promised." Here's a passage that spells out the longer version, emphasis added:

In 2012, Sony and its advertising agency, Deutsch LA, Inc., promoted the PS Vita on the internet and in promotional videos, TV commercials and stores. Ads said you would "Never stop playing" and showed users enjoying the "remote play," "cross save" and real-time 3G features. But the FTC says that despite the ads' promises, customers really couldn't use remote play to run most PS3 games on the PS Vita -- not even Killzone 3, the popular PS3 game Sony featured in its promotional video explaining remote play. And the claims that you could "cross save" by pausing a game on one system and resuming it on another? Sony didn't tell that you actually had to have two copies of the same game for this feature to work. What about the live, multiplayer game sessions that looked exciting in the ads? The PS Vita couldn't do that, even if you bought the 3G version.

According to a press release from the FTC, the organisation charges Sony with misleading consumers with false claims about a number of specific features of the PS Vita. Most of these centered around the Vita's highly anticipated ability to play PlayStation console games (i.e., ones on the PS3 or PS4) by streaming them to a Vita. The problem, according to the FTC, is that the features were far less comprehensive than Sony made them out to be -- specifically in regards to the Vita's compatibility with the PS3.

Here's an example of one of Sony's US advertisements for the Vita, which highlighted "cross platform gaming" as a feature that would let owners play a PS3 game, pause it, then "pick up right where you left off on your Vita":

First, Sony said that the Vita's "cross platform gaming" or "cross-save" feature would allow owners to "pause any PS3 game at any time and continue to play the game on their PS Vita from where they left off." But this feature only worked with "a few PS3 games and the pause-and-save capability described in the ads varied significantly from game to game." The FTC highlights the 2012 baseball game MLB 12: The Show as an example of this:

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.

Secondly, the FTC's complaint claims that Sony's ads "falsely implied that consumers who owned the 3G version of the device (which cost an extra $US50 plus monthly fees) could engage in live, multiplayer gaming through a 3G network." This feature didn't work the way Sony said it would.

Finally, the complaint alleges that Sony misled customers about the Vita's "remote play" feature with advertising that claimed "PS Vita users could easily access their PS3 games on their handheld consoles."

"In reality, most PS3 games were not remote playable on the PS Vita," the FTC's press release states. "Sony also misled consumers by falsely claiming that PS Vita users could remotely play the popular PS3 game, Killzone 3, on the PS Vita. In fact, Sony never enabled remote play on its Killzone 3 game title, and very few, if any, PS3 games of similar size and complexity were remote playable on the PS Vita."

The terms of the settlement prevent Sony from making "similarly misleading advertising claims in the future." The company must also provide customers who bought a Vita before June 1, 2012, with refunds. These refunds will give affected customers either $US25 in cash or credit, or a $US50 merchandise voucher.

The FTC said that Sony will notify Vita customers eligible for refunds by email "after the settlement is finalised by the Commission."


    And this is why I never considered buying a Vita. It's totally an awesome potential, poor delivery device.

      Uh, have you actually played one now that the PS4, etc. is out?

      Remote Play with the PS4 works fantastically well and not only that, the Vita library is now getting great in its own right. PSOne classics are probably at their best on any system on it as well as due to the small screen they look sharp and lively compared to a TV.

      The only downside is Sony not producing any 1st-party titles for it any more, but there are plenty of great 3rd-party titles coming out all of the time.

      Ignorant. On par with "this is why i don't have a girlfriend".

        Yea, or everything Sony I've bought with potential has had poor delivery. No way I'd ever buy Sony on "potential" ever again, either it delivers, or it doesn't, because I don't expect them to improve the product in the future.

          The way I see it is that it's a console. It either has games you want or it doesn't.

          Every other "feature" is just icing on cake. Does Vita have games I want? Yes. Lives up to my expectations so far =P

            I love playing games, but I probably use my console more for media these days, and my wifes use is 98% media. So the everything else matters a lot more than it used to.

              And that's perfectly fine. :D

              From your end you need a multi-media machine. I'm in it for console gaming needs. Two different perspectives w/ 2 different results!

      Damn, they should make a public apology for this nonsense. Im glad i was broke when this came out, cause I'd definitely be angry.

    So you mean same as Sony touting you can install Linux on your PS3 then taking it away in a required firmware update?

      Well it was there for quite a long time. Until people was trying to use it to pirate PS3 games. They had to stop it or else we won't even see ps4 today. That was the time PS3 was still behind Xbox 360 by a lot.

      Blame the community for trying to exploit a feature they were willing to provide for free.

        You seem to be the ONLY person on Kotaku who understands what happened

          I understand what happened but I don't think it's quite fair to remove advertised features due to piracy concerns. I mean you wouldn't say they would be justified if they permanently removed networking functionality due the big PSN hack. I really couldn't care one way or another on the specific case, what I imagine when someone says 'runs Linux' was very different to what the PS3 actually launched with, but at the end of the day it was removed because they didn't want the hassle of plugging the holes properly.
          They weighed the backlash of screwing a small group of customers against the cost of fixing it and chose to screw customers over. It's only a little thing, but with the massive influence Microsoft and Sony have on the industry and the long term commitment customers make when purchasing their consoles they have to be held to higher standards. We can't just let them hold up pirates as scapegoats and dodge responsibility for their decisions.

        doesn't matter

        I was happily using linux on my PS3
        You can't remove something that you promised on your launch conference
        Its ridiculous

        There is an exploit in PS3 and Xbox 360 right now where you can pirate games. By following this logic, should Sony now remove the feature to accept USB drives to stop this?

      As @letrico said - blame the guy (forget his name) who was using Linux as a backdoor to get the keys to the PS3. (Whch I think he actually got, iirc - and resulted in a lengthy, messy legal debacle with SCE) Which despite his or anyone's best intentions for homebrew, etc, the end result would have been rampant PS3 piracy once the keys got out in the wild.

      Last edited 26/11/14 10:50 am

      Also this feature was not prominent in their marketing.

    I picked up a vita on clearance when the newer model was released. One big reason was for handheld psone classics. Right off the bat I found some games that were showing up in my web browser with my ps account where gone when I tried to buy them on my vita which was a disappointment. Other than psone games I've only really found 3-4 other games that I enjoyed on the system and 2 of those are remakes. Some people love all the jrpgs on there and while I'm usually a big jrpg fan I couldn't get in to some of the vita ones.

      I think you're refering to the regional availability issue. For example, PS1 classic Dino Crisis is available on the North America PSN but not on the Australian PSN. You need to double check you are on the au site when in the browser. It sucks and I'm not sure why they do that. Also there is no easy way to find out when new PSP and PS1 are released - you just have to keep checking.

    True enough I suppose, cross play games should have been a one sell only deal, not one for each system. But I mostly got it for the JPRGS that are released on it.

    I wish they made them add the features instead.
    Games come out few & far between so mine gets used more for reremote play these days.
    It would be nice if I could use it to knock over my PS3 pile of shame while on the crapper.

      Games are few and far between? There's 4-5 new games per month for the Vita.

        Games worth my time & money

    Meanwhile there are no less than 4 PlayStation TV ads on this page that all say NEVER STOP PLAYING

    I don't know - maybe it's my age, but I take everything advertised with a grain of salt. "Oh, you can do this cool thing? Neat, but I understand it'll probably take some set up/other hardware/detail."

    I've had a Vita from day one, and I love it.

      This - I just wonder at what point the average idiot consumer becomes accountable.

      Remote Play over 3G? That was never going to be possible - it still isn't. Bandwidth, coverage, data usage etc - no way. Especially not in Australia. Remote Play over Wifi with the PS3 was possible, but it was average as hell, same as on the PSP - which is more to do with the PSP and PS3, than anything. You couldn't even play games on it really, was more for remote control. Remote Play on the PS4 is amazing, and more than makes up for the lack of functionality on the PS3 version.

      To me it's no different to the 3DS launching without an eShop or web browser until months after release - or Kinect not supporting Australian English for what, 18 months after it's release? They all spin the specifics, it's advertising. Be the grown up and do your research, or at the very least be smart enough to be skeptical. Then if they do disappoint you in some way you don't throw a tanty and expect someone to buy you a treat afterwards.

      I don't know - advertisements are always best case scenario, and as jane said - grain of salt guys.
      I got my Vita at launch, and it's first year was slow on the game front. Amazing handheld, and still love mine. Functionality wise, most of it was gimmicky to start with. But lately it's quite the place for JRPGs and niche/indie titles. And stuff like cross buy, cross save, Remote Play - it all works perfectly and is a fantastic feature addition to the PS family.

      Last edited 26/11/14 10:47 am

      These sort of cases just protect the ignorant, and keep them that way. If you bought a Vita for these features and failed to see what features were present on release you kind of deserved to be punished for being an idiot.

    Nobody is talking about how you only get $25-$50 back for the refund.

    Bought the Vita when it first released.

    Over time, it has rediscovered it's purpose in life - collecting dust on my table.
    I switched it on last week. It felt good, like an empty shell. I did what I had to do - update the system. Then I switched it off. It felt like deja-vu. If you know what I mean.

      My wife is playing mine for the first time ever today and I've owned it for a year... If I'm quiet, she might appreciate it... Tap tap tap...

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