Update (April 16): In a statement posted on Twitter last night, Planet Entertainment asserted that it is “fully within its rights to publish Cooking Mama Cookstar.”
“Office Create, the rights holder to Cooking Mama, approved a detailed game design in 2019,” the statement reads, in part. “1st Playable is the game developer and Planet followed the exact approved design. That design is the exact game on Nintendo Switch which also included additional Office Create suggestions which add gameplay value.
“Unfortunately, creative differences arose as Cooking Mama Cookstar was near completion that were outside the scope of our agreement and the game design approved by Office Create.”
Despite Office Create’s legal threats, Planet notes that “there is no active litigation or ruling that prevents Planet from publishing the game.”
Original Story (April 15)
The creator of the Cooking Mama franchise is threatening legal action against publisher Planet Entertainment over what it is calling an “unauthorized release” of Switch title Cooking Mama: Cookstar. The game, which technically came out earlier this month, now seems to be caught in a partial state of retail and distribution limbo.
Cooking Mama IP holder Office Create (which developed the best-selling Nintendo DS and Wii editions of the game) said in a statement that Planet Entertainment licensed the name for Cookstar back in 2018. “Unfortunately, the quality of the game builds failed to meet the standards that our customers expect and deserve,” Office Create said.
“Office Create rejected a wide range of deficiencies affecting the overall feel, quality and content of the game,” the statement continued. “Yet, despite being contractually obligated to correct the identified deficiencies and resubmit the corrected game for Office Create’s approval, Planet proceeded to release Cooking Mama: Cookstar without addressing all of the rejections and without Office Create’s approval.”
Office Create went on to say that it is “evaluating all legal action against Planet to protect our customers, intellectual property rights and the Cooking Mama series,” and the company apologized to customers and fans for “any confusion and disappointment that has been caused by Planet’s conduct.”
Reversed releases and blockchain rumors
Despite what Office Create says was an “immediate termination of the license” at the end of March, Planet actually announced Cookstar‘s availability at major retailers in early April. Planet also said a downloadable version on the Switch eShop was still pending only because “the whole world is upside down with delays right now.”
A handful of media reviews, as well as photos and videos of gameplay from Twitter users, prove the game exists and was being distributed via retail. But as IGN reports, any sign of the game’s release quickly disappeared from major storefronts in the US. While the game is currently being sold directly through an official website and European retailers, the only other offerings from major US retailers seem to be from third-party resellers (who are charging significant markups from the $39.99 MSRP).
Did you pick up your copy of Cookstar yet?
You can purchase your copy of Cooking Mama: Cookstar directly through our website for $39.99
— Cooking Mama: Cookstar (@CookstarMama) April 11, 2020
Complicating matters further, Planet issued a confusing, buzzword-filled press release last August detailing how Cookstar (which was then called Cooking Mama: Coming Home to Mama) “will be the first game to integrate blockchain technology on major consoles.” That led to rumors that Cookstar had run into trouble with retailers and Nintendo because it was secretly using Switch hardware to mine cryptocurrency.
Developer 1st Playable, which was contracted by Planet to actually make the game, publicly denied those rumors earlier this month. The game’s official Cookstar Twitter account also had to deny the allegations, clarifying that while the developers “explored both blockchain technology and cryptocurrency tokens… as a means to allow players to trade in-game assets,” these ideas never got past the “explor[ing] the theory behind the concept” phase.
On top of that, online listings for a PS4 version of the game have popped up via international ratings boards, European distributors, and some retailers. Despite that, Office Create says it “has not licensed Planet (or any other entity) to create any Cooking Mama games for PS4. Office Create itself has not been involved in the development of any PS4 Cooking Mama game.”
We’ve reached out to Planet Entertainment for comment on this apparent dispute. For now, though, the company seems to be continuing to sell and promote the game as if nothing is wrong.