Sony to pay customers for misleading Playstation ad

Sony is settling government charges that it misled consumers about its PlayStation Vita hand-held gaming console.

The Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement Tuesday, saying it took issue with some of the advertising claims that Sony Computer Entertainment America, the U.S.-based arm of the PlayStation business, made about “game changing” technology features of its PS Vita gaming console.

Among the claims challenged:

—That the pocket-sized console would revolutionize gaming mobility by allowing consumers to play their PlayStation 3 games via “remote play.”

—That people could engage in “cross platform” play by starting a game on a PlayStation 3 and then continuing the game on the PS Vita from where they left off.

Not really true, said the FTC.

With the cross platform play feature, the agency says it was only available for a few PS3 games, and the pause-save features varied from game to game.

For “remote play,” the complaint says Sony told consumers that PS Vita users could easily access their PS3 games on their hand-held consoles. But most PS3 games, the FTC said, were not remote playable on the PS Vita.

“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, head of the agency’s consumer protection bureau.

Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ad claims at issue were made during the U.S. launch of the product, around the early days of 2012, when the console sold for about $250.

As part of the proposed settlement, Sony will provide refunds to people who bought the PS Vita console before June 1, 2012. They’ll be eligible for either a $25-cash or credit refund or a $50 merchandise voucher from Sony. And Sony will contact consumers about the refunds or vouchers via email.