You'll notice Batman, over on the right there. Let's take a closer look:
"Free Online Batman Game"? Well, that's curious because I follow comics pretty closely and I'd be the first to know if an "Online Batman Game" had been in the works (this advert has been doing the rounds on numerous comic-related websites. Visit the URL in the ad - Batmangame.info - and you'll see this...
There it is again - "Online Batman Game". Furthermore, the text goes on to say:
"Batman Online lets you do anything and every little thing you'd like in a Batman game. From leveling up your character to destroying villans, it has it all. Download and play this amazing game now, all for free! I'm sure you'll be playing for hours on end, it's that much fun.
Level Up Your Character
Explore a Huge Vast World
Play Online With Your Friends
Hundreds of Quests To Finish
Perfect Battle System
So start your Batman adventure today! Download the full game below and fight them all!"
Note that they specifically call it "Batman Online". It specifically sounds like a text blurb you'd expect to see with a MMORPG. However, something isn't quite right here.
1) The only DC licensed MMORPG anybody knows of is this, and it isn't due out until 2009. It's not Batman-centric, either.
2) The screenshots are lifted from the Batman Begins videogame, which came out in 2005. If you were offering a "Batman Online Game", wouldn't you use screenshots from that instead of an unrelated title?
3) Absolutely no licensing, copyright or legal mumbo-jumbo on the page anywhere. DC and Warner Bros don't roll like that.
4) The website - Batmangame.info - is registered anonymously. Not exactly something you see everyday for websites related to licensed DC franchises such as Batman videogames.
5) "To download and play the Batman Online Game you must download and install Zango as well. It is free, very easy to install and will give you access to the full game."
Shall we continue?
A Zango installer prompt, complete with picture of Batman at the top. Click "Start" and you'll get the usual collection of Zango installer screens, including one that rather humorously has a guy in a superhero costume.
Once everything is installed, you're taken to another page. Up to this point you've been promised an "Online Batman Game", the description of which is clearly intended to evoke images of a MMORPG. However....
All of a sudden, you're being told you're downloading "Batman: Vengeance" on a cheap-looking splash page and shown what looks like an unofficially ripped Batman: Vengeance trailer on Youtube.
In case you're unaware, Batman: Vengeance is a videogame first launched way back in 2001 for consoles (followed shortly after by a PC version). What does this have to do with an "Online Batman Game"? Well, nothing, actually. Aside from the fact you were presented with one thing and are now handed another, things get even stranger when you see the download location:
Have you ever heard of an officially licensed game being offered via Rapidshare downloads? It's possible, I guess, but it seems a little odd. However, the real oddness is reserved for the "Online Batman game" itself.
Remember, we've been promised "Hundreds of quests", "A huge vast world", the ability to "level up your character" and "play online with your friends".
Imagine your dismay, then, when you've installed Zango, downloaded the game from Rapidshare using up around 140MB of bandwidth, installed it and....
Not only are you given a totally different game than what was advertised, you're given a DEMO VERSION of that game with four short sample levels present, no online functionality and quite a few less quests than the "hundreds" advertised.
Hilariously, you can download a 100% legit copy of this demo here at Fileplanet, sans Adware. Setting aside the issue of whether this file is actually sitting on Rapidshare with either Ubisoft or DC / Warner Bros permission (and if it IS okay to be there, I'm pretty sure it's NOT okay to falsely advertise it as some kind of MMORPG) there are some questions that need to be raised.
When this guy approached them with his website, did nobody stop to think that this game did not actually match up with the "Online Batman" game it was touted as? Didn't someone at Zango Quality Control actually download the game and see the big "This is a demo" wording as soon as it starts up? Or question why the screenshots on the website don't look like the graphics for Batman: Vengeance in the slightest?
However you look at it, this is a scam, pure and simple. Whoever came up with the idea of an "Online Batman Game" is lying through their teeth. Of course, because their website is registered anonymously we have no idea who the culprit is, unless of course Zango want to deposit them on the steps of Gotham City and let me dispense some Batman-style justice to their posterior.
However, based on the way these things tend to go - God forbid anyone ever offer up the identity of someone happily scamming the public at large, even when that person is dragging the name of the company associated with them through the mud by their antics - I think I might be waiting some time for the Bat Signal...