Cooking Mama: Cookstar hit retail stores last week — but the game was never launched digitally. According to reports, it was briefly listed in the U.S. Switch eShop, but was swiftly taken down. But before you buy the game in Australia, be aware that there’s accusations the game was harbouring a cryptocurrency miner.
According to IGN, Cooking Mama: Cookstar was delisted from the U.S. eShop and scrubbed from the eShop completely in late March. In Australia, it doesn’t appear to have been listed at all — not even as a ‘coming soon’ title.
Nintendo and the devs really dropped the ball with Cooking Mama Cookstar. I was able to preorder as soon as the trailer went out but displaying the game on eShop only to take it off with no explanation and then leave folks hanging when it was suppose to out in late March. pic.twitter.com/GRWDK0mGtx
— SIMPAI is on Alba Island ????????✨ (@MadamZeti) April 3, 2020
Kotaku Australia reached out to Nintendo and publishers Planet Digital Partners earlier this month to confirm the digital release status of Cooking Mama: Cookstar, but neither party has responded to multiple emails about its lack of listing so far. Information on the Cooking Mama: Cookstar is extremely hard to come by and it’s unclear who represents the title in Australia.
The reason for this secrecy may have been uncovered recently, with Twitter user @MorshuMmm sharing screenshots from a private Discord server in which it was alleged Cooking Mama: Cookstar uses Switch consoles to mine cryptocurrency and personal information of players. It’s important to note that this claim has not been confirmed and the source is currently unknown — but Cooking Mama‘s interest in blockchain technology is not unheralded.
The original 2019 press release announcing the game’s arrival emphasised the blockchain elements of the game. Publisher Planet Digital Partners highlighted new modes for the game in the release alongside the fact that each game would have a ‘unique blockchain private-key’ that allowed for improved DRM, nebulous rewards and an ‘enhanced multiplayer experience with dual expression’ which would make every copy of the game unique. It’s now alleged this meant the game would install cryptocurrency mining software on user’s consoles to discretely mine bitcoin for unknown parties.
The thing is… they weren’t sutle about it back in August 2019. Cooking Mama screamed it from the rooftops and said “FEATURE!” https://t.co/DdUyRwV3Vh https://t.co/CtYjxRJkbu pic.twitter.com/MRQaujDdoI
— Daan Koopman (@NintenDaan) April 5, 2020
As Siliconera reports, the game allegedly caused Nintendo’s network severe problems and led to Switch overheating issues for some players, which is what alerted Nintendo to the problem and caused the original delisting — but again, these rumours are currently unconfirmed.
A report from Twitter user @Toadsanime seemingly contains a response from the developers of the title — but the tweets do not list who exactly the developers are. The official statement from this mysterious party reads as follows:
“As the developers we can say with certainty there is no cryptocurrency or data collection or blockchain or anything else shady in the code. The Nintendo Switch is a very safe platform, with none of the data and privacy issues associated with some mobile and PC games.”
When asked to respond to the 2019 press release, they had this to say:
From dev regarding blockchain press release:
“This is a release from Feb 2019, and we presume hypothetical like most releases about blockchain are. Blockchain was never brought up to us developers, and we were entertained to hear about in late 2019. Not happening anytime soon.”
— Ryan Brown ????: ???????? & ???????? (@Toadsanime) April 5, 2020
Twitter user @DoesItPlay1, an account dedicated to providing relevant information around physical media, confirmed that the game works offline, without a linked user account and on formatted consoles seemingly debunking the cryptocurrency mining theory. The account speculated that if the currency or blockchain technology did exist in the title, it has since been removed.
UPDATE 2 : we have worked with a user who has a physical copy and can at first appearances confirm the following: thanks @mmofallout
Game works offline
Game works without a linked user acc
Game works on a formatted console
Currency and blockchain appears removed pic.twitter.com/arsXwcaHWl
— DoesItPlay – please stay at home ???? (@DoesItPlay1) April 5, 2020
The current status of Cooking Mama‘s blockchain tech is thus far unconfirmed.
Despite these concerns, the title is still freely available at retail stores in Australia, with both EB Games and JB Hi-Fi listing stock online and in store. If you’re planning on purchasing the game, it might be best to wait until this whole mess has been sorted out first.