Sony will offer partial refunds to customers to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges that its ads in 2011 and 2012 for the PlayStation Vita console's cross-platform sharing and other features were deceiving.
Sony Computer Entertainment America will provide people who bought the handheld console before June 1, 2012 either a US$25 cash or credit refund or a $50 voucher for video games or services, the FTC said in a release Tuesday.
The company was also barred from making other deceptive advertising claims. The PS Vita sold for about $250 when it was launched.
The FTC said ads that promised the PS Vita could be used to remotely play games on a PlayStation 3, and that the former console could be used to continue games started on the latter, were misleading.
"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," the FTC said. "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."
Most PS3 games could not be run on the PS Vita, including "Killzone 3," a popular PS3 title promoted in videos about remote play, the commission said.
In an unusual move, the FTC also singled out Deutsch LA, which produced the PS Vita advertising, for participating in the deception and urging its employees to promote the console on Twitter without telling them to reveal their connections to it. The FTC barred it from further conduct of that nature.
Sony, meanwhile, is standing by the PS Vita as a companion to the hit PlayStation 4 console, which was launched a year ago in North America.
"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 FTCs inquiry in order to focus on the PlayStation 4s momentum into this holiday, where PlayStation Vita continues to play an important role," a spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment in Tokyo said in an email.
The settlement "will offer qualifying PS Vita owners the unique opportunity to get additional value and content for their handheld system, he added.