How could a Nintendo cooking game cause a maximum amount of controversy in a short period of time? Cooking Mama: Cookstar answered that question for us recently, and the simple answer is: convince users you might be running a cryptojacking scheme.
For those unfamiliar with the Cooking Mama franchise, the goal of the game is to prepare a series of meals through short, bite sized minigames. The series has been fairly popular for 14 years, and would be the last place you might expect to find covert digital asset mining code.
But thanks to newly implemented blockchain based copyright systems, and a tendency to overheat the Nintendo Switch console, the game, which was released on March 26, was quickly accused of using the hardware to mine some kind of digital asset.
PSA FOR COOKING MAMA COOKSTAR pic.twitter.com/2IulAqq5Gp
— Jimbo (Lo Wang Travis and Sol for Smash) (@WU22P0PPINJIM) April 5, 2020
1st Playable, the game’s developers, denied the claims quickly. “As the developers we can say with certainty there is no cryptocurrency or data collection or blockchain or anything else shady in the code,” they wrote. “The Nintendo Switch is a very safe platform, with none of the data and privacy issues associated with some mobile And PC games.”
The accusation stems for a prior announcement from Planet Digital Partners, who revealed earlier this year that Cooking Mama would use blockchain technology to implement its Digital Rights Management (DRM) software.
The game was pulled from the Nintendo eShop following the controversy, but some sleuthing by dataminers, who reverse engineered the code of the game, later noted that no cryptojacking could have been performed by the game.
I keep seeing rumours about there being a cryptominer in Cooking Mama: Cookstar, and due to its inclusion, it was pulled from the eShop.
After some RE work, I can safely say there is no cryptominer/blockchain stuff anywhere within Cooking Mama: Cookstar's code.
— SimonTime (@itssimontime) April 5, 2020
1st Playable also noted they never implemented the blockchain DRM that Planet Digital Partners had pushed for. “Blockchain was never brought up to us developers, and we were entertained to hear about in late 2019. Not happening anytime soon,” they said.
So if the game was safe to use, why did it get pulled from the digital store? It turns out that while choosing not to implement their own DRM software to protect their intellectual property, the game took some of its music from a YouTube library, causing another potential copyright headache.
— Ehm (@OtherEhm) April 5, 2020
If you’re looking to purchase Cooking Mama: Cookstar, and still have stores open near you, it should be available for purchase. Meanwhile, when the developers fix the game’s musical files, it will likely be available for purchase in the Nintendo eShop once again.
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