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Balatro runs into rating trouble

Playstack says its roguelike card game Balatro has run into a ratings problem resulting in it being “temporarily removed from sale on a number of digital stores in some countries on console platforms.”

“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 the mistaken belief the game ‘contains prominent gambling imagery and material that instructs about gambling,'” Playstack said in a social media post.

As of this writing, Balatro appears to be available in the usual places in the US and Canada, but the UK Xbox and PlayStation stores are listing it with a PEGI 18 rating and a descriptor for “Prominent Gambling Imagery.”

The Balatro page on the Nintendo UK website has been pulled.

PEGI’s website does not list a rating for Balatro, and the organization did not immediately return a request for comment on the game’s rating.

“Balatro does not allow or encourage gambling, and we fundamentally believe the ratings decision is unfounded,” Playstack said.

“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.”

It added that the game received a 3+ age rating in October and specifically discussed the question of gambling themes with the board at the time. Further, the game has not changed since it received the 3+ rating.

Earlier this week, PlayStack confirmed that Balatro had become a profitable title within an hour of its release, and topped $1 million in sales after eight hours.

[Update]: A Playstack representative provided an update to, saying, “This is a live issue and presently we believe that, due to the sudden ratings change from 3+ to 18+, this has triggered legitimate automatic safeguard systems on digital stores, and consequently most Nintendo Switch stores across Europe are temporarily affected, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.

“Balatro was not removed from the PlayStation or Xbox store and our optimistic view is that, since they have not automatically been removed, this temporary issue is most likely contained to the regions and platforms currently affected. We are seeking quick confirmation and quick resolution so that fans of the game will be able to play as soon as possible.”

[Update March 4, 2024]: A PEGI representative told that Balatro was originally assigned a rating through the IARC rating questionnaire, but that it was revised after the board spent some time with the game.

“After a substantial play test last week, the PEGI 3 rating that was generated on the basis of the publisher’s responses to the questionnaire was altered to PEGI 18 for ‘Prominent Gambling Imagery,’ the representative said.

On social media, Playstack said it expects the game to return to Nintendo’s storefronts in Europe, Japan, and Australia/New Zealand later this week.

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