Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review - The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

I was not pleased when Christian Bale started wearing the mask of Batman.  Always before we had seasoned actors to take over the role, actors with character and skill.  Michael Keaton, definitely a good actor.  Even George Clooney had some character to add to the part.  Look, let's sum it up.  Batman is essentially a rich guy, with lots of martial arts training, who puts on a tech-savvy suit and goes after the bad guys.  Michael Keaton and George Clooney and everyone else who has played Batman before Christian Bale, focused on the fact that Bruce Wayne was a character in and of himself.  The Batman was just a mask.  Bruce Wayne was the one out there, beating the shit out of those thugs.  The mask was just to give him a flimsy excuse to ignore the law and get his hands dirty with some vigilante justice.

Christian Bale does not play the role that way.  Now, it may not in fact be his fault.  It's possible that the role was just written that way and that Mr. Bale was the only one who took on the job.  But the fact remains that, while Mr. Bale has played the Batman, it is not the Batman that is the mask, but in fact, Bruce Wayne.  Christian Bale plays it as if the Batman has always existed within him, and Bruce Wayne is merely the public persona he has adopted in order to mingle with the rich and powerful and keep tabs on the criminal element of high society.  I don't think this adds to the role in any way, in fact, I think it detracts from the role.  Instead of us seeing a cultured man, a man of means (even a means with which to get even with the thugs who killed his parents), what we see is a thug who has risen from the ranks of the same criminals he fights.  Yes, his family has money, yes, he generally fights for the little people, but where did he come from?  According to the Christian Bale mythos, he was a member of a secret shadow society, trained to assassinate, to bring people down, to cause chaos, to attack from the shadows, to bring fear to the populace.  Basically, in Christian Bale's world of Batman, Bruce Wayne is a trained terrorist.

This is just not the same as a rich boy, wounded at criminals causing the death of his parents, learning to fight against that very criminal element.  This is not a story about a man who struggles with the desire for revenge.  This is, now, a story about a terrorist who decided to switch sides.  Or maybe it's a story about a terrorist who still fights for the poor and downtrodden, but the other terrorists switched sides, making them his enemies.  This whole story is now about the Batman.  Bruce Wayne no longer exists.  There is no longer a dichotomy over which alter ego becomes dominant.  There is only the Batman, slipping on the Bruce Wayne mask in order to pass for a civilized man.  Perhaps the comic books portray him more along those lines.  I don't really know.  I never read the Batman comics.  I was more of a Marvel fan.  All I know is, I honestly don't really care about who a terrorist is fighting for, what his romantic life is like, or whether he wins or loses.  Because frankly, no matter who wins, there's still a terrorist out there causing havoc, whether it's the Joker, Mr Freeze, the Riddler...  or the Batman.  Maybe it's Mr. Bale's acting skill.  Maybe he's just not suited for the role.  Maybe the role was badly written and that's just the version the producers went for.  But it just isn't turning out well, at least, in my opinion.

So let's sum this bitch up.  Bruce Wayne is getting old.  Apparently there was some fight or something, and he got his ass beat, and he's hurting and not recovering well.  He's lost his will to live.  My nephew told me this, but somehow I must have missed it.  Maybe it happened in the last movie and I just don't recall that part.  Maybe it happened at the beginning of this one and somehow my brain took several minutes after the beginning of the movie to clue in that it had started.  I'm not really sure.  In any case, the Batman is a wreck.  Maybe it was the last movie, the battle with Harvey Dent and the Joker taking everything he had?  Couldn't say.  So, Bane pops up.  I guess Bane was in the one where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Mr. Freeze?  I don't remember Bane being in that movie.  Anyway, there's a lot of backstory going on here, about Rhaz Al-Ghul (Liam Neeson returns for a brief cameo), and his family, and a prison, and the Batman trying to live as a fighter when he's way past his prime.  Personally, I was always more fond of how the Batman used his skill and gadgets to outwit criminals, not out-fight them.  But this is not that Batman.

I guess I should deal with the acting talent first.  Morgan Freeman is back as Fox.  Always a good performance from Morgan Freeman.  Gary Oldman is back as Commissioner Gordon, who for my money, is the real hero here.  The man has to lead a police force where the cops are outgunned, outmanned, out-lawyered, and out-moneyed.  He's using Harvey Dent's reputation to help get his job done, even though Harvey Dent is the one who nearly killed his son.  He's doing all this while feeling horrible for hiding the truth, that Harvey Dent was actually Two-Face, and that the Batman saved his life and that of his kids.  I can't agree with the casting of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.  One, i didn't really know who she was, because she hasn't done any monster movies.  Two, Catwoman is supposed to ooze sex appeal.  Anne Hathaway isn't, uh, how to put this delicately... well, she just doesn't ooze sex appeal.  I don't know how well the main villain delivered his lines, mostly because, with that stupid mask over his face, i couldn't understand half of them.

Seriously, wtf, whose decision was it to have a villain with a mask over his face through the whole movie so you could barely understand a word he said?  Now, I may be old but my hearing is generally pretty good.  When the bad guy does his bad guy monologue, you're supposed to understand it.  You aren't supposed to be wondering wtf he just said.  I mean come on, it's like Kung Fu Panda standing on the roof in Kung Fu Panda 2, shouting his challenge to the peacock, when the peacock can't hear a word he says.  Totally loses all the impact.  So Bane starts delivering his lines, and I hear mumble mumble, mumble mumble detonate mumble mumble, mumble mumble mumble.  Take back mumble mumble, mumble mumble mumble mumble.  What a rousing speech!  I was moved to tears.  And I'm supposed to fear this guy?  I can't even understand him.  What is it they say about a good movie?  The villain makes the story.  Which would make this story rather lacking.

I suppose there was your average number of explosions, gun fights, fistfights, and fancy bat-vehicles for a batman movie.  I think probably the best moment in the movie, for me at least, came when the police took to the streets again in spite of being outgunned and out-numbered.  That took balls, and lately, it's a rare instance of police being shown in a good light.  The last time I saw a police officer on the screen, there were like a dozen of them beating on a person for taking video of them on a cell phone.  And it wasn't fiction.

I can't say as I will watch this movie again.  I don't like Christian Bale as the Batman.  Honestly, I don't really understand the status of Batman as of the end of this film, and I hate it when things aren't really explained.  I was much more interested in how Michael Caine's character fared as Bruce's butler than I was about Bruce Wayne, the batman, catwoman, Bane, or however many bad guys crawled out of the woodwork.  I'm pretty much hoping Christian Bale is done as Batman.  I know they'll do new Batman movies in the future and hopefully the next one will be better.  I guess I now feel the same way about the batman franchise as I do the james Bond franchise.  That is, the current one sucks and I'm waiting for a better one.

That's all I got for now, except, why the HELL did Syfy decide to toss a stupid series into the middle of their saturday night movie lineup?  Seriously, the only goddamn reason I watch Syfy now is to see crappy monster movies.  And as everyone knows, I love crappy monster movies.  So now, instead of every saturday being a crappy monster movie fest all day and all night, I got a few monster movies and then shitty syfy one-hour series.  Look, Syfy...  You're DOING IT WRONG.  I understand you want to pump up viewership of your new series.  But you can't get two things into your collective heads that you really, REALLY need to understand.  One, you make bad series.  I'm sorry, you just do.  There hasn't been a single series you have ever made that was any good.  Any series you have that were any good, started somewhere else, and then you ruined them.  Just stop trying to have a syfy series on the air that you made because you aren't any fucking good at it.  I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this.  You just aren't.  Stop it.  Two, you DO make halfway decent B monster movies.  I don't know if you collect them all from somewhere else or you make them in-house, but the ones I have seen have been fairly fun to watch.  Not all of them, mind you.  No one bats a thousand.  But I think if you focused your money more on making and showing the B monster movies, your viewership would increase a lot more than trying to sell one more crappy series that will just be cancelled after a season or two because they SUCK HUGE SWEATY DONKEY BALLS.  Nuff said.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review - The Numbers Station (2013)

First, I've got to say, I like John Cusack.  And it's not one of those weird likes.  I enjoy the man's work. He says (according to his IMDB.com page) that he tries hard to act well for the movies he likes, and he just does some movies for the money, but to be completely honest, I can't tell the difference in the acting.  I don't know whether that makes him a good actor, or a bad one, but either way, I seem to enjoy watching his movies.  From the list on his IMDB.com profile, I can easily remember seeing about half his lifetime of work, movies that I can instantly recall just from seeing the title alone, and that's pretty impressive, if you ask me.  I can't really say whether he's just being himself in every role, or whether he's a character actor, or even what that really means.  I just know he usually takes part in movies that are fun to watch.

The Numbers Station is no exception.  Netflix classifies it as a "race against time" movie.  I didn't even realize there was such a genre, so I would have classified this movie as pure "action," which it is.  To sum it up without giving anything away, I'll just define the title.  A "numbers station," according to the beginning of the movie, is a secret government-controlled radio station that uses coded broadcasts to send encrypted orders to agents in the field.  According to the movie, such broadcasts are untraceable and the codes can't be broken, making them the perfect way to transmit orders.  John Cusack plays an agent who is assigned to such a station, and to sum things up, the station, at some point in the movie, becomes "compromised."

I don't know how I managed it, but I summed up a movie without giving away a goddamn thing.  I'm rather proud of myself.  I mean, yes, I mentioned that the station becomes compromised, but, please, it's the name of the movie, and you KNOW there's going to be some sort of problem or there wouldn't be a movie about it, right?  I mean, compromised is pretty goddamn vague.  Could mean anything from aliens to secret agents to ninjas to sea monsters from Korea.  Anything.  Pretty goddamn open, that word is.

So, let me see.  John Cusack plays the agent.  There's a girl.  Some hot chick.  Seen her before, don't know what her name is.  You know why i don't know what her name is?  She hasn't done any monster movies.  Yes, that's right.  I love horror and monster and creature features.  If you haven't been in one, I don't know you.  John has done several, not to mention the odd romantic comedy that I enjoy laughing at on occasion, and that's how I know him so well.  And by him, I mean, his work.  John tends to stay out of the media circus, and that's another thing to like about John Cusack.  There's some other people in the movie as well, most notably, Liam Cunningham, I think his name is?  Yea, that's him, should be easily recognizable, i've seen him in a lot of things.  Acting is decent, at least, I never saw anyone and thought "Oh, that's whatsisname, from wherever," because I was too wrapped up in the movie to even think about the actors, and they acted well enough to leave me in my little bubble of entertainment.  lol

This movie is almost all action, which is maybe why it didn't do so well at the box office.  At least, I guess it didn't do so well, because I had never heard of it before seeing it on Netflix.  Now, action is usually a good thing, but in this movie, there was a few things that could have been improved.  The station itself was pretty awesome, an abandoned american military base in england.  They showed the base a little bit, but I think if they had played up the setting a bit more, the wholly abandoned feel of the place, it might have added to the atmosphere.  Two, there wasn't much action going on between the two main characters.  Very little chemistry, no sparks flying, not much romantic tension, you know?  It would have really gone against type for John's character, and I get that, but I think it still would have added something to the movie if things were a little more, I don't know, "sparky."  Three, there's not really a whole lot of question as to who's doing what or what's going on.  They do a great job of explaining things, and you can figure out what's happening almost immediately, but there's no real question about it then, is there?  There's no twist at the end that makes the whole movie make sense, which is what happens in a lot of movies, and often adds to the tension and makes people remember the movie a bit better for the surprise.  Oh and of course, female nudity, which this movie has none of, always makes a movie better.  I don't know why, but being an average straight american male, it just does, somehow.

All in all, the movie was enjoyable, there was tons of action, bullets, explosions, the usual action fare, and a hot chick to drool over, even though she wasn't naked.  I'd probably watch it again, and I'm honestly confused as to why it never made the rounds on the premium channels, or maybe it did and I just missed it, somehow.  Catch it on netflix if you like.  Pretty sure it was just added recently, and it was just made this year, so I doubt they'll drop it from the lineup anytime in the next few months.

Oh, fuck me!  Liam Cunningham!  Of course!  I just made the connection to where I had seen him!  Dog Soldiers!  One of the best werewolf movies I've ever seen!  I liked it so much I got it on DVD!  he played Captain Ryan, the bastard leader of the black ops squad that gets raped by werewolves at the beginning of the movie!  Holy shit, no wonder I know the guy.  I'm pretty sure he always plays a hard ass military type.  Typecast, maybe, but he does his job well.  I sure as hell hated the guy in that movie, and that's just plain good acting!  lol  Yea, so there's another reason to watch the movie.  The guy looks totally different with a beard, though, just saying.  I almost didn't recognize him.

Holy freakin shit!  He's also Davos, the onion Knight from Game of Thrones!  :-o  I been watching Game of Thrones for three seasons now and I never even made the connection...  Goddamn.  That's good acting, right there.  Same face, bearded or not, and I can't even recognize him from one role to the next.  And he always plays policemen, soldiers, people in authority, that kind of thing.  Maybe typecast, maybe a character actor, but either I'm senile or he's good at his job.  I'm really hoping he's good at his job, because if I'm senile, I'm going to start leaving my house without pants on any day now, and honestly, where would I put my wallet and keys?  Man, that bites.  I'd hate to lock myself out of the house.  Especially without pants.  Especially next winter!  :-o

In other news, I made a prediction a few months back that the summer would be cool and wet.  It was a prediction based on several factors.  One, we've had unusually warm and dry seasons the last few years, and a return to less dry and less warm weather was expected.  It's like watching it come up Black on the roulette wheel 6 times in a row and then betting on Red.  Also, this past winter was wetter and colder than the previous winter.  It may not have been as wet or as cold as an average winter for these parts, but compared to the winter of 2011-2012, which was warm and dry, it signaled a return to more normal temperatures.  More normal temperatures, for this region, means a relatively cool and damp summer, so I figured forecasting a cool and damp summer to be a pretty safe bet.  Turns out I was right so far.  Been cool, and damp, and so wet I haven't been able to mow the lawn in about 2 weeks because of all the freestanding swampland back there.  Or, I think they call them "vernal pools," meaning, depressions that fill up with water in the spring and then evaporate come summer.  At least, I hope they evaporate, because if they don't, I expect frogs to make a comeback just in this area alone for all the breeding grounds.  I may not know shit about variations in the jet stream or how El Nino or La Nina will affect the tropical storms in the gulf of Mexico or whatever, but let's face it, the important thing in meteorological science isn't to tell people what's already going on out there.  Any idiot can look out the window at the clouds and say it might rain.  People don't need to be told what it's doing outside right now, or why.  What they really want to know is, what is it going to do tomorrow?  And the day after?  And 6 months from now?  Which would ultimately lead to, "is that hurricane or tornado going to hit me or not?"  That's the real goal of meteorology.  Predictions.  Accurate predictions.  To save lives, to save money, and to save me from getting my ass wet next time I go to a picnic and it pours.  Because really, who likes a wet ass if it's not on a hot babe in the shower?

Exactly.  I knew you'd agree.  Til next time!  :-D

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Steam, Kickstarter and Early Access.

The gaming paradigm has changed.

I know it's a different world today than 15 years ago.  Back around, oh, the year 2000 or so, games used to be released as finished products that you paid a decent sum of money for, and then you got to play them and have fun.  Game companies got their revenue only if they made a decent product, and consumers were willing to shell out however much you charged for it.  If you didn't make a good product, word got out, and your time and money was wasted because people stopped buying it.  It's the american way, or at least, it used to be.

Nowadays, we have things like Kickstarter.  Now, kickstarter, in and of itself, is actually a good thing. Kickstarter is a method whereby you put forth an idea for a game (or something similar) and people donate to your cause until you have enough cash to proceed with it.  Ideally, the theory is that good ideas from independent programmers will get funded and once the programmers have enough funds to proceed, they finish their wonderful game and then release it for consumers.  If you are a gamer, you've probably heard of it already, and if not, you probably will soon.  if you are not a gamer, this post may not mean much to you at all so you could probably quit reading now.  lol

Steam is an online game purchasing service.  Originally bundled with Valve titles like Left4Dead and other games by Valve (which I can't really think of any right now, maybe Halflife?), it has grown to offer games from almost all companies and independent game startups, as well as having basic chat functionality.  I've been using steam for years, ever since I bought left 4 dead, installed steam, and realized I never had to leave my house again to buy a game.  You buy them, they download to your system, and you play them.  No waste of gas money, no waiting in long lines of unwashed geeks for the midnight opening, no fighting for a parking spot with a crotchety old lady named Vera who says she always parks there and threatens you with attack by her small toy poodle who looks like he's scared to leave her beat up volvo.  Just browse the listings, pick one, and POOF you get to play, all in the comfort of your original 1980's scooby doo pajamas.

Steam also offers something called "Early Access" wherein, you buy a game early and you get to provide feedback to the game developers while they make it, hopefully resulting in a better and more enjoyable game.  Again, ideally, this seems like a good idea.  With more feedback from your target audience, you get a larger pool of beta testers, and they can let you know how to improve your game and point out bugs you might have missed, resulting in an outstanding and very well-received end result.

Now, here's how shit breaks down in our modern, crazy, mixed-up world.

You don't actually need to have a decent product, or be an independent developer, to get on Kickstarter.  Any idea can be listed and there are tons of people out there who will donate.  Even major developers can use it to gather funds from the gaming community without any reason whatsoever as to why they aren't using their own company resources to develop it.  So, they can legally pocket every dime they get, and then use kickstarter to fund the next game, instead of putting profit back into the company.  Your game can be little more than an idea.  You don't need a working demo, you don't even need to be a programmer.  This opens kickstarter up to much abuse of the system.  At least, that's what I have heard, and I may be misinformed.

Early Access doesn't give you any special influence as to how games are developed.  The gaming companies, which if they were smart, used to listen to feedback from the gaming community while they were developing the game anyway, can still ignore your suggestions and make the game any way they want to.  It is still their product, whether you bought into it while it was still an idea or not.  Your suggestion may be the most reasonable, funnest thing EVER, and they can still choose not to include it in their game for whatever reason.  Also, your opinion doesn't have any more weight than some other idiot on the forums who hasn't bought early access to the game, IF the gaming company even listens to their forums, which they may not.  Early access sounds more like they are charging you for the privilege of providing feedback, and guaranteeing their revenue stream, before they even have a finished product.

So in essence, here's what's going on.  Let's say I am the shittiest game developer on the planet, and I have a crappy game idea.  Let's say for the sake of argument I am also the crookedest one out there.  So, yes, I am Electronic Arts.  Although, they certainly don't need to use kickstarter to fund their game development, since I heard they recently purchased God and are forcing him to work overtime to make crappy games for them.  I could also be Mojang, who started charging for Alpha access to Minecraft (which, while a good game, has had VERY little development done on it over the past 5 years while raking in buttloads of money), and haven't released a decent game since.  So here I am, with my shitty game idea.  I slap it up on Kickstarter with a few crappy mockups of what it might eventually look like.  I let the funding roll in.  And roll in.  And roll in.  Once I've got more money than I know what to do with, I hire a guy.  Some crappy programmer fresh out of C++ classes to program something for me.  I pay him shit money to make a shit game, and to take his time about it.  While I use fifty dollar bills to light my bong, he works on some basic outline of a game.  And then I slap it up on Steam's Early Access and wait for it to get greenlit by a rabid gaming community who wouldn't know a good game if it came up behind them and goosed them.  I don't blame them.  It's not their fault, because there's so many crap games out there nowadays, they can't tell what a good game looks like anymore.  And then once it goes to early access, and everyone starts buying my crappy piece of shit game that took me years to develop while everyone was throwing money at me, I can light my bong with hundred dollar bills while the money keeps rolling in.  And in six months, after I've ignored everyone on the forums telling me how my game sucks and this is what I could do to improve it, I then release my crappy piece of shit game, and start lighting my bong with thousand dollar bills as anyone who didn't want to buy an unfinished product, now buys my finished piece of shit game.  And when the money runs out?  I go back to kickstarter!  Flawless.

I don't really understand when it became a pay-to-work attitude with companies.  Maybe they got so flustered with cash that their brains snapped.  Maybe they started feeling like their employees owed them so much for allowing them to work at a company that that attitude just naturally trickled down to the average consumer.  Nowadays, games like World of Warcraft and most other MMO's charge you a monthly fee to run around doing pointless quests like gather 100 of these by killing 1000 of those and take them to this guy and then he sends you to another guy who has a similar quest.  And then at some point you "level up."  When did gaming become all about hearing the DING noise when you go from level 45 to level 46?  Does that DING matter that much to you?  Do you really feel like you've accomplished something after taking into account the fact that you've played WoW for 3 years, at a cost of $15 a month, and a waste of countless hours of your life, to get your cartoon character from level 45 to level 46?  Can you die happy now?  Do you know anyone else who has "get a WoW character to level 46." on their bucket list?  Have you bathed this month?  Are your kids starving to death while you play WoW?  When was the last time you talked with a human being outside of the game?

Where's the fun?  When did companies start charging you for the pleasure of working for them, which is basically what you are doing in most level-based games?  I mean, think about any level based game you have played, at all.  Level one is about learning how to play.  You're there going "Oh, new game, I have to figure out the rules, then it'll be fun." as you run around doing exactly whatever any quest-giver in the game tells you to do.  Then it's a DING to level 2, and you're hooked.  You're like Pavlov's dogs at this point.  Wanting to hear that all powerful DING, and the instant you hear it, you're already salivating to get to the level after that.  I've actually been told, by a very brainwashed WoW player, that you have to get to the MAX level, which was 70 at the time, in order to get to the fun parts of the game.  Seventy levels of work to get to a few fun parts, and that's in-game work, while I PAY a monthly fee to Blizzard, for the honor.  So I have to work at my day job for years in order to pay for my nighttime job of playing WoW, in order to finally have fun when I reach level 70, after however long it takes me to get there?  Months, years?  And honestly, once you've reached level 70, what happens then?  Where's my DING?  How can I enjoy the game now?  There's no more levels!  I've done everything there is to do, and even if I haven't, it's just going to be EXACTLY like those other billion things I had to do to GET to level 70.  Because that's what the game does.  It brainwashes you, with a DING, to think work is fun, instead of fun being fun.

What comes next?  Who even needs to hire managers at companies now?  You can set up computer generated quest-givers at the managers desk to give out quests to employees whenever they come around, or to just randomly send them out via email.  Employees, excited to have a job and intimately familiar with the work-for-fun concept, are giving their all trying to learn the rules of the workplace, hoping to keep working because no job means no money.  Why not just reward them with a DING instead of money?  Why pay them at all?  Toss some stale snacks at them from the vending machine, have a small bell over their heads go DING after every 3 months of service, and your employees are now slave labor.  Congratulations!  You can now pocket every dime your shitty company makes and jet off to aruba while Americans are slaving over a hot computer hoping to hear a DING!  Well done, dickhead.  I hope your plane crashes into the ocean and you are eaten by sharks.

I'm even more disturbed by the free-to-play scenario with games nowadays.  Humans, ever competitive, get to play the game for free, opening the game up to a wider market.  Of course, there's always the rich douchebags who have shiny gold mounts and flashy magic weapons that you pay through the nose for via the in-game store, showing off all over the game and trying to entice you into buying stuff.  Human beings have no willpower, that much is obvious.  So instead of a decision whereby they consider the cost of a game against the value of how much fun it might be, which it was in days past, you now get to work in-game, for free, running around doing quests, while the richer folks among us flaunt their flashy wares.  Neverwinter, i'm looking at you.  I can't believe they were trying to charge $120 for a "northern adventurer" package or some shit, where you got a spider mount and some flashy helmet or something.  Wtf.  One hundred and twenty goddamn dollars, the cost of two or three games back in the day, for a mount with 6 legs.  Ooh.  Hold me back.  I suppose in a sense, it's a lot like real life, where most people will see a guy with a flashy car or nice house or trophy wife and think "Man i need to get me some money and get those," but at least in real life you get PAID for your work, at least, in most cases, though not always as much as you should.  You at least have the choice of what you spend your hard-earned money on, but if you'll allow me, I'd like to make a suggestion...

Don't spend it on unfinished ideas.  Wait til they finish the game.  Just like you wouldn't buy a car when all you've seen is a painting of what it might look like, you shouldn't be spending money on a game you haven't played yet.  Test drive that sumbitch.  Wait til they release a demo so you can try it out.  If you don't like it, at least you don't have to buy it, and that stops the company from releasing a poor product and you paying through the nose for it before you've even seen it.  Trust me, I've been burned by gaming companies, and companies in general, way too many times to not be speaking from experience here.  If they can sell you a piece of shit and tell you it's solid gold, they will.  Buyer beware.  And for all that is good and holy in the world, avoid games with an in-game store.  Avoid them like they were the black plague and you're a medieval peasant with a bad constitution.  There's a reason games are going with in-game stores now.  The companies make more money off of them that way, and they don't spend as much time on the actual game, trying to make it fun.  No, it's all about maximizing profit for minimal input.  Companies do not care if you get burned, since there's 50 other people who aren't as bright as you who are going to get fooled.

At least until we all start paying attention, and let them know we aren't as dumb as they think we are.

I hope that happens soon.  I'm tired of getting burned.