The strange — but very serious — dispute between the publisher of Cooking Mama: Cookstar and the company that holds the rights to the Cooking Mama intellectual property has reached a turning point. The owner, Japanese publisher Office Create, claimed that 2020’s Cooking Mama: Cookstar was an unauthorized project — and the International Court of Arbitration has agreed, clearing the way for Office Create to have the game removed from digital and retail storefronts.
It’s a messy complaint, but the bottom line to players is that the first console edition of Cooking Mama since 2008 can be removed from sale because Connecticut-based publisher Planet Entertainment were not authorized to release the game. The arbitration decision, handed down in October, ruled that Planet Entertainment owes Office Create more than $20.9 million in profits that it realized from Cooking Mama: Cookstar’s sales on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
Planet Entertainment also owes another $2.37 million to cover milestone payments the arbitrator said it must return and Office Create’s legal fees. In addition, Planet Entertainment must destroy all game copies and intellectual property assets that it still has in its possession. Finally, the judgment also says Planet Entertainment must “refrain from passing off, inducing, or enabling others to sell or pass off any product as a Cooking Mama product” unless that product is made or licensed by Office Create itself.
“Office Create is undertaking all necessary steps to ensure that the infringing ‘Cooking Mama: Cookstar’ video games (digital and physical copies) are removed from the market,” the publisher said Thursday in a statement published on its website.
At publication time, Cooking Mama: Cookstar was not listed at either the Nintendo store or the PlayStation Store (apparently it was only briefly available on Nintendo’s storefront back in 2020). GameStop likewise had no listing for the game, though Amazon has several.
Intriguingly, Planet Entertainment launched a game called Yum Yum Cookstar for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, through those consoles’ storefronts, on Oct. 4.
In 2020, as Cooking Mama: Cookstar was preparing to launch, Office Create said the game Planet Entertainment submitted did not meet its standards, and Office Create wanted developer 1st Playable Productions to make fixes. Planet Entertainment instead launched the game as it was, and Office Create subsequently terminated its licensing deal with the company for “intentional material breach of the license contact.”
At the time, Planet Entertainment said it was fully within its rights to publish Cooking Mama: Cookstar and that Office Create had demanded changes that were “outside the scope of [the] agreement and game design.”
Polygon has reached out to Planet Entertainment for comment and will update this article with any information we receive.