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What the heck is going on with Cooking Mama: Cookstar?

Publisher Planet Entertainment and IP holder Office Create Corp. are fighting

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A yellow meat grinder extruding meat in Cooking Mama: Cookstar Image: 1st Playable Productions/Planet Entertainment
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Cooking Mama: Cookstar was slated to be the first Cooking Mama franchise game on the Nintendo Switch. And I guess it still is, despite some ... troubles.

Cooking Mama: Cookstar is reportedly an “unauthorized version” that was never intended for sale, according to intellectual property holder Office Create Corp. Despite that, it was released in North America, Europe, and Australia. Physical copies are available online, but it was available only briefly on the Nintendo Switch eShop. Planet Entertainment was also reportedly promoting a PlayStation 4 version that was never officially licensed.

Now, Office Create is seeking “all legal action” against Cooking Mama: Cookstar publisher Planet Entertainment, it said in a notice posted to its website Wednesday.

Office Create Corp. said Cooking Mama: Cookstar didn’t meet its quality standards when it was submitted to the IP holder, and Office Create Corp. wanted developer 1st Playable to fix parts of the game. Instead, Planet Entertainment released the game, according to the statement. Office Create Corp. has since terminated its licensing deal with Planet Entertainment due to the “intentional material breach of the license contract.”

“Despite such notice, Planet continues to advertise and sell the unauthorized version of Cooking Mama: Cookstar on its website in willful violation of Office Create’s rights,” the company wrote. “Office Create is evaluating all legal action against Planet to protect our customers, intellectual property rights and the Cooking Mama series.”

Polygon has reached out to Planet Entertainment, Office Create Corp., and 1st Playable for clarification on the game’s status.

This is all confusing enough on its own, but all parties have been sending out mixed messages for some time now. On April 5, Planet Entertainment tweeted from the official Cooking Mama: Cookstar account suggesting the Nintendo eShop delay was due to the “whole world [being] upside down,” presumably referring to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. It pointed players to North American and European retail web stores to purchase the game.

All of this comes after rumors circulated online that Cooking Mama: Cookstar included hidden cryptocurrency and blockchain capabilities. Blockchain is a contentious term, but the cryptocurrency allegations claimed the game would, presumably, use players’ processing power to generate cryptocurrency. These rumors originated with a Cooking Mama: Cookstar press release from August 2019 in which Planet Entertainment stated the game would be the first on a major console with “integrate[d] blockchain technology.” The press release has since been pulled offline, but an archived version is available on The Wayback Machine.

On April 5, the publisher tweeted the rumors are “absolutely incorrect.” Planet Entertainment said it “explored both blockchain technology and cryptocurrency tokens.”

“We looked at these options as a means to allow players to trade in-game assets,” it tweeted. “However, we only explored the theory behind the concept, not the implementation. Cooking Mama: Cookstar, nor any of our other titles in the past or near future will utilize crypto technology.”

At the time of writing, Cooking Mama: Cookstar is still available for purchase online. It’s listed for $39.99 on the official website — “available to ship immediately.” Third-party sellers are offering the game for inflated prices on Amazon and eBay. The game is no longer available for sale on GameStop and other retailers.

Update (4:41 p.m. EDT): Planet Entertainment addressed Office Create Corp.’s statement in a Twitter post on Wednesday. It says Planet is “fully within its right to publish Cooking Mama: Cookstar,” and that there is “no active litigation or ruling that prevents Planet from publishing the game.”

The dispute between Office Create and Planet arose when the game was “near completion.” Planet said Office Create asked for changes that were “outside the scope of [its] agreement and game design” originally approved by the IP holder.

The full statement is below.

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