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FTC approves Sony PS Vita settlement

Early adopters to receive $25 cash or up to $100 in games as amends for deceptive advertising

The Federal Trade Commission last week gave its final approval of a settlement with Sony Computer Entertainment America and Deutsch LA, the marketing agency Sony used for the launch of the PlayStation Vita. The five FTC commissioners voted unanimously in favor of deals to settle charges it made against the two companies for misrepresenting the system's capabilities around the time of its 2012 debut.

The ads in question promised that the Vita's Remote Play feature would let users pause PlayStation 3 games at home, then play them on the handheld wherever they felt like it. Sony neglected to mention that the feature was only available on a handful of PS3 games, and it didn't work the way it was depicted in the commercials. Beyond that, Sony also failed to state that the Vita's 3G capabilities did not allow for live online multiplayer games (the system needs a WiFi connection for that), and that users would need to buy copies of the same game on both systems to get the feature to work.

The FTC has barred Sony from making misleading advertising claims in the future, and agreed to a restitution plan that will see Sony give those who purchased a Vita before June 1, 2012 a check or PSN credit of $25, or one of three bundles of downloadable PS3 and Vita games worth up to $100. Eligible customers must fill out a form and mail it in by June 30 of this year.

As for Deutsch LA, the FTC took exception to a social media campaign it ran in which its employees sent out promotional tweets using an official hashtag from their personal accounts. Those tweets were deemed as violating the FTC's endorsement guidelines because they didn't represent the views of "actual consumers" and they weren't disclosed as coming from Deutsch LA employees. The FTC's order explicitly prevents the company from misrepresenting endorsers of games or consoles as independent users, and requires the company to disclose connections between such endorsers and itself.

Early adopters of the Vita can learn more about how to claim their cash or credit from the settlement's official site.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar

Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.