Poker-inspired roguelike game Balatro made unavailable in some countries following a ratings change

Posted on March 2, 2024

Balatro is a fantastic, out-of-nowhere smash-hit roguelike game that takes all its cues from Poker. Following its release last month, it has garnered near-perfect reviews from critics and players alike, with its twists on the deckbuilding genre and the game of poker itself. If you live in certain countries though, you might not find it on your online storefronts. That’s because the game has been removed from some console stores, following an unexpected change in its ratings. If you already have the game in your library, you can continue to play it.

The game first launched with a rating of 3+, but it seems as though a ratings board has suddenly changed its mind and updated the game’s rating to 18+ for containing “prominent gambling imagery and material that instructs about gambling.” Balatro’s publisher Playstack doesn’t say which ratings board is causing the issue.

In a statement shared to Twitter/X, Playstack shared that it could not confirm exactly which stores would be affected, though they were “confident” that its Steam listing would remain unaffected. The statement argued, “We fundamentally believe the ratings decision is unfounded. Balatro was developed by someone who is staunchly anti-gambling, and painstaking care has been taken to ensure that the game does not feature gambling mechanics of any kind.”

The statement goes on to explain that the publisher had already discussed the game with the ratings board in October, and had been assured by the board that the game would be able to launch with a rating of 3+. It does not seem that Playstack has been given any explanation by the board about why it felt the rating must be increased. Playstack has reassured players that the game will be made available again shortly, though it will be with the new 18+ rating while they attempt to resolve the issue.

Australian gamers will know that when it comes to video games, ratings boards can sometimes be a little overzealous. The Australian Classifications Board has refused classifications for many games over the years, causing headaches for publishers and distributors.