Crazy cryptomining Cooking Mama rumours spread as game pulled from Nintendo Switch online store

Graham Cluley @gcluley

Cooking Mama: Cookstar pulled from Nintendo Switch online store amid cryptomining rumours

I know this will come as a shock to some of you, but you really shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.

This weekend rumours circulated that the Nintendo Switch video game “Cooking Mama: Cookstar” contained code that would secretly hijack the game console’s processing power to mine for cryptocurrency. Probably not the kind of think you expect as you attempt to conjour up everything from burritos to Baked Alaska.

The rumours – which appear to have first bubbled up on that ever reliable source of information, 4Chan – caught fire on Sunday, in a (now-deleted) tweet which described “Cooking Mama: Cookstar” as a “fake video game”:

Cooking Mama rumours posted on Twitter

To add fuel to the flames, was that just hours after the game’s release on the Nintendo eShop it was withdrawn without explanation.

Might Nintendo have pulled the game after discovering it was secretly cryptomining on its customers’ games consoles? That was certainly the theory being put around by some, like this Twitter user who posted a screenshot of a Discord discussion, that was subsequently retweeted almost 10,000 times:

Cooking Mama rumour

Part of the screenshot read:

THIS IS URGENT apparently if you own Cooking Mama Cookstar uninstall that immediately its Usiing your system to mine Crypto Currency and potentially handig your personal info as well credit to Cybershroom for the heads up

Because if someone says something on Discord it has to be true, right?

Perhaps what helped add to the Cooking Mama cryptomining conspiracy was a press release put out by the game’s developers last year, which referenced that the game would include Blockchain technology:

Key blockchain components for “Cooking Mama: Coming Home to Mama” include:

  • Unique Blockchain Private-Keys – Each purchased copy of the game will have unique IDs which will be managed directly through the game’s internal wallet storage. Players will be able to focus on Cooking Mama’s user experience rather than cryptographic key management.
  • Private-Key Enabled Balanced DRM – Traditional DRM limits the ability to copy games, while private-keys on blockchain protocols allows easy registration. These combined items provide greater proof of ownership to legitimate owners of a game, while also allowing them to resell games both digitally and in traditional retail outlets.
  • Enhanced Multiplayer Experience with Dual Expression – This feature, when enabled, makes every copy of a game subtly different and personal to a user. It utilizes the private-key to change expression algorithms for characters, ingredients and cooking methods.
  • Securing Online Events – For promotional events, player records and participation can be tracked while maintaining privacy. In addition, hashes of the running game can be recorded to ensure the game has not been altered to create an unfair advantage.
  • Digital Assets, Rewards, Recognition – Users will be rewarded with in-game currency (or points, experience, and other items) or earn recognition and certificates. These could be provided by the game, other players, or third parties that host tournaments or other promotions.

In fairness, just about every other press release put out in 2019 mentioned Blockchain. And they were all bullshit.

Thankfully, there are often experts we can turn to for advice – rather than just repeat rumours shared by our gaming buddies. Nintendo fanatic and reverse engineer Simon Aarons took to Twitter to share that he had found no evidence of there being a cryptominer hidden inside inside Cooking Mama: Cookstar’s code.

Meanwhile, the official Cooking Mama: Cookstar Twitter account poured cold water on the flames, denying that there was any cryptomining code hidden inside the video game:

The internet is alive with rumors that Cooking Mama: Cookstar contains hidden cryptocurrency/blockchain capabilities that are causing the Switch to overheat. This is absolutely incorrect.

At Planet Entertainment, we explored both blockchain technology and cryptocurrency tokens.

We looked at these options as a means to allow players to trade in-game assets. 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.

The game’s developers say that they hope the game will be available for digital download again soon.

Crazy rumours abounding via the internet are nothing new, of course, whether it be conspiracy theories about 5G technology supposedly helping spread Coronavirus or cryptomining cooking games.

Don’t trust everything you read on the internet.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.