Download Zango, Get Free PC Games (Sort Of)

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Let's take a look at

....a website that promises much, and delivers little.

You may have seen these adverts in circulation on ad networks recently:




In each case, the advert promotes a popular videogame - most notably Half Life 2 and Fallout 3 in the above examples. The adverts are pretty clear - a picture of said game, and "Free, Legal". It seems reasonable to expect a deal has been made to allow you to obtain the advertised titles for free, legally.

Of course, it's all about to go horribly wrong.

Visit the site, and you quickly notice a few things - many 404 errors, pages that loop back on themselves and a lot of this:

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...hmmm. Moving swiftly on, we can see elements of the site are starting to slip from "reasonable" to "slimy". Namely, this:

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"Download Half Life 2" sits proudly at the top of the page - at this point, you'd expect the full game, wouldn't you? Especially as beneath the Download button sits a number of green bars with "Server Load" written on them - each showing a different percentage. You would think this is further evidence of the site pushing out large sized downloads of the full game - imagine your dismay, then, when you shortly discover the "Server Load" graphics are entirely fake and don't represent anything at all.

Hit the Download button, and you'll see this:

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An install prompt for Zango, pre-ticked (of course) and also giving you the option to have "free ShopperReports", whatever that is. Without installing this, you have no way to access the wonderful free game download waiting for you on the other side.

So you accept the prompt, and install Zango & company on your PC in return for the promise of a "free game".

What do you get?

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A CNET download page offering up the Half Life 2 demo of ONE LEVEL, is what you get.You can't even play it unless you install Steam and create an account.

Yes, you've just been taken for a ride.

Even better than that, the site owner (who registered the URL anonymously, of course) can't even be bothered to offer up the correct downloads. The second advert in this article clearly shows Fallout 3, and the Fallout 3 "download page" says this:

Fallout 3 is the third game in the great Fallout Series. It is a single player RPG action game that takes place in Washington DC, following a nuclear war. 200 years after the war, survivors live safely in a fallout shelter named Vault 101. When you find that your father has inexplicably left Vault 101, you follow him to the outside world. A world filled with Super Mutants, Giant Insects, Raiders, and Slavers.

Fallout 3 allows you to explore the entire former city of Washington with near limitless freedom. The game can be played from either 1st person, or 3rd person perspective, and the course you take throughout is entirely up to you.

On top of all this, Fallout 3 renders its environment in eye popping graphics. Every explosion, every character, and every piece of scenery is displayed in full HD, creating a really powerfull experience. This is definitely a game that must be played.

Download Fallout 3 now! Just click start on the next page.

Sounds awesome, doesn't it? Imagine the look on your face, then, when you've installed Zango, been taken to the download page and....

fall4.jpg're offered a PROTOTYPE from 2003 that doesn't even resemble the game eventually released last year. It's so far removed from the promised game it's not even funny:

"While playable, Van Buren is a pre-alpha tech demo, never intended for public consumption. Many features, including combat, aren't fully implemented, the graphics are very basic, and it is extremely buggy. It is also has no connection whatsoever to the Fallout 3 project currently being developed by Bethesda."

What's particularly humorous here is that their adverts say "MyGamesFile does not host or link to illegal software". However, if you read how this "not for public consumption" demo was made available in the first place....

"Oddly enough, one day after putting a tooth I lost during a biking accident under my pillow, I woke up and found a CD under my pillow. Putting it in my computer, I found out it contained something called "demo.rar". Unzipping it, guess what I found. So thank you, tooth fairy"

Whoops. The demo seems to be "on general release" nowadays, but its origins seem somewhat "under the counter", to say the least. In case you were in any doubt just how different these two are, this is Van Buren:

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...and this is Fallout 3:

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The prosecution rests, your Honour.

Just when you think it can't get any stinkier, you scroll right down to the bottom of the page.

Do my eyes see something there? Why yes, they do.....sort of.


Oh my, dark grey text on a slightly lighter grey background. I wonder why they did that? Well, probably because it says this:

"MyGamesFile does not host or link to illegal software. All links are to legal, demonstration versions."

After all, nobody would install Zango (making the site owner money) if they were fully aware going into this "deal" that they could get these same demos elsewhere with no need to install anything, am I right? And if they furtively admit to doing nothing more than linking to demos elsewhere, what's with all the fake "server load" graphics all over the place?

This site fails.

It reminds me a little of the fake Batman MMORPG website from a few months ago - more importantly, it highlights how Zango continue to let bottom of the pile, cookie cutter sites like this through their Q&A process.

I'm willing to bet there's more of these out there. For now, the easiest way to ensure you don't get fooled by "offers" such as this is to switch off Javascript, then hit the "Download" button. If you're taken to something like Fileplanet or a Demo page, you know to back out slowly, not making any sudden movements...

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This page contains a single entry by Christopher Boyd published on February 16, 2009 9:21 AM.

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