Recently, the popular roguelike card game, Balatro, has found itself in hot water due to an unexpected change in its age rating. The game was suddenly reclassified from a 3+ rating to an 18+ rating by a ratings board, causing it to be pulled from several digital storefronts in the EU. This decision was made without any prior warning, leaving both players and the developer, PlayStack, confused and frustrated.

Developer’s Response

In response to the sudden ratings change, PlayStack issued a statement clarifying that the game does not promote or feature gambling, despite the ratings board’s claims. The developer had previously discussed this issue with the ratings board and had been granted a 3+ rating, only to have it changed to an 18+ rating overnight. PlayStack remains confident that the game will return to the EU storefronts, potentially with a temporary 18+ rating while the issue is being resolved.

This is not the first time a game has faced controversy over its content. Another game, Sunshine Shuffle, encountered a similar issue last year when its combination of cute animals and poker led to it being banned in certain markets. While Sunshine Shuffle remained available on some platforms, it was pulled from the Nintendo eShop in North America and completely barred in South Korea. These incidents highlight the challenges developers face when it comes to navigating regional content regulations.

Despite these setbacks, Balatro has managed to achieve significant commercial success. The game sold an impressive 250,000 copies in just 72 hours across all platforms and generated $1 million in revenue within eight hours of its release. This rapid success not only demonstrates the game’s popularity but also underscores the financial impact that rating changes can have on developers.

The recent rating controversy surrounding Balatro serves as a reminder of the complexities and challenges involved in the gaming industry. Developers must not only create engaging content but also navigate the intricate web of regional regulations and ratings boards. While setbacks may occur, the resilience and dedication of developers like PlayStack ensure that quality games like Balatro will ultimately find their way back to players.


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