Balatro bumped from some console storefronts due to ratings change

Screenshot from Balatro featuring an assortment of different Joker cards
Image: Playtonic

Balatro, the card game everyone’s talking about right now that’s not named Queen’s Blood, has apparently been removed from console storefronts in certain countries. The game’s publisher, Playstack, addressed the removals, attributing it to Balatro’s ratings suddenly changing from a game for players three and up to a game for players 18 and up.

Playstack wrote that the change happened “due to a mistaken belief that the game ‘contains prominent gambling imagery and material that instructs about gambling.’” Playstack went on to vehemently deny that Balatro contains gambling of any kind, affirming that its developer “is staunchly anti-gambling.”

In an email to The Verge, Playstack PR manager Wout van Halderen went into a bit more detail about the affected consoles and countries, writing, “Most Nintendo Switch stores across Europe are temporarily affected, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.” Storefronts in Asia are also being monitored, but Playstack hasn’t confirmed if they’re also impacted.

Van Halderen also wrote that Playstack is working to get the game back up in the affected markets as soon as possible.

“The logical first step is to get the game back with the current 18+ rating and take it from there,” he wrote. “This could mean a patch with updated ratings or an additional look through certification.”

Strict anti-gambling regulations in Europe and Asia have caught up a number of games that may not explicitly feature gambling content, and poker games seem especially susceptible. Diablo Immortal did not launch in Belgium or the Netherlands due to the countries’ classification of loot boxes as a form of gambling. Sunshine Shuffle, a narrative game featuring animals playing poker, was temporarily removed from the North American Nintendo eShop and outright banned in Korea because its creator joked a little too much that the game “teaches children to gamble.”

Despite this hiccup with Balatro, Playstack wrote in its statement that it doesn’t foresee PC storefronts being affected, and the game is still currently available on Steam.