Indie poker hit Balatro gets delisted from storefronts after sudden rating change

A list of Jokers appear in Balatro.

Balatro, a poker roguelike that has become a surprise hit after being released last month, will get delisted in some regions after a sudden rating change that claimed the game encouraged gambling.

“This is not an issue with the stores themselves, however, a reaction to an overnight change to Balatro‘s age rating from 3+ to 18+ by a ratings board without any advance warning, due to a mistaken belief that the game ‘contains prominent gambling imagery and material that instructs about gambling,’” publisher Playstack explained in a message on X. “Balatro does not allow or encourage gambling — and 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 of any kind.”

The rating board in question appears to be PEGI, which Playstack says discussed this issue with them in October 2023 before initially assigning the game a 3+ rating. Because of the sudden rating change, Playstack says that it “cannot estimate with complete confidence which stores it will be removed from” or give a timeline for when the issues will be resolved. Thankfully, those who have already purchased Balatro in an impacted region will be able to redownload and play it even after it’s been taken off digital storefronts.

In the US, Balatro still sports an E10+ rating from the ESRB for “gambling themes.” This isn’t the first time something like this has happened with a poker-related game. Strange Scaffold’s Sunshine Shuffle was delisted in December because of TikTok videos its developer made joking that the game promoted gambling. It has since been relisted, so hopefully, the same will happen with Balatro in the impacted regions.

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