San Francisco, California - Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved two final orders settling charges that Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (Sony) and its advertising agency at the time falsely advertised certain capabilities of the company’s PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) handheld gaming console introduced for sale in 2012.
According to the FTC’s complaints, announced jointly in November 2014, Sony deceived consumers with false advertising claims about several “game changing” technological features of the PS Vita in late 2011 and early 2012. The Commission alleged that Deutsch LA, Sony’s advertising agency for the PS Vita launch, knew or should have known that the advertisements it produced contained misleading claims about the console’s capabilities.
The FTC also alleged that Deutsch LA misled consumers by urging its employees to create awareness and excitement about the PS Vita on Twitter, without instructing them to disclose their connection to the advertising agency or its then-client Sony.
In the FTC’s order with Sony, it is barred from making misleading advertising claims about the features or attributes of its handheld gaming consoles in the future. Under the order, Sony 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 FTC’s order with Deutsch LA bars it from making similar misrepresentations as Sony, and bars misrepresentations that an endorser of any game console product or video game product is an independent user or ordinary consumer of the product. It also requires the agency to disclose a material connection, where one exists, between any endorser of a game console product or video game product and Deutsch LA or other entity involved in the manufacture or marketing of the product.
The Commission vote to approve the final consent orders and send letters to members of the public who submitted comments was 5-0. (FTC File No. 122-3252; the staff contacts are Linda Badger and Matthew Gold , FTC’s Western Region, San Francisco, 415-848-5100)