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Sony Settles Claims Over False Vita Console Ads

(CN) - Sony has agreed to give customers refunds to settle claims its ads for the PlayStation Vita game console and its supposedly "game changing" technology were misleading.

Under the terms of the agreement announced today, the company is barred from making similarly misleading advertising claims in the future, and will provide consumers who bought a PS Vita gaming console before June 1, 2012, either a $25 cash or credit refund, or a $50 merchandise voucher for select video games, and/or services.

The PS Vita is a handheld gaming console that Sony began selling in the United States in February 2012. Unlike the PlayStation 3, which allows consumers to play video games on a television, the PS Vita is a portable device that enables gamers to play "on the go," untethered to a television screen, Sony said.

The Federal Trade Commission says Sony's advertising claims about the gaming console were deceiving primarily in describing the specifics of how the handheld gaming system will interact with consumers' existing PlayStation 3 systems.

"Sony claimed, for example, that PS Vita users could pause any PS3 game at any time and continue to play the game on their PS Vita from where they left off," the agency said. "This feature, however, was only available for a few PS3 games, and the pause-and-save capability described in the ads varied significantly from game to game."

The commission also took issue with Sony's claims about the remote play feature of the Vita, which it characterized as "greatly exaggerated" before going on to note the feature is available on only a few PS3 games.

Finally, the agency said, Sony falsely claimed that Vita Owners would be able to paly multiplayer games live with a 3G connection.

But Sony isn't alone in bearing the brunt of the commission's ire over the Vita campaign.

The commission also took issue with Deutsch LA, the advertising company that handled the launch campaign. According to the agency, the firm instructed its employees to promote Vita on Twitter without disclosing their involvement with Sony.

In a statement Sony said it will contact consumers about the refunds or vouchers via email.

In addition to the refunds, both Sony and Deutsch LA agreed to remove the offending advertisements from any platform they still exist on, and not to make similar misrepresentations in the future.

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