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Balatro creator speaks out on gambling rating drama

Plus mobile version on the way.

Pixel Joker card and the word Hello! from the Balatro trailer
Image credit: Playstack

The creator of poker-themed rogue-like Balatro has spoken out about the game's rating drama, stating "it is what it is".

In an AMA session on reddit, developer and artist localthunk was asked for comment on how PEGI mishandled the game's rating after it was pulled from sale in some countries due to a "mistaken belief that the game 'contains prominent gambling imagery and materials that instructs about gambling'", as per publisher Playstack's statement at the time.

"I still believe that the rating is unwarranted, but there is some grey area for interpretation from PEGI and at this point it is what it is," said localthunk. "I think the one thing I am most disappointed by is the fact that other games with actual gambling mechanics aren't rated the same way because of their appearance/theme."

Balatro - Launch TrailerWatch on YouTube

Elsewhere in the AMA, Playstack confirmed a mobile version is in the works. "If we have any new announcement around this we'll post it on our Discord and Twitter," it said. One reply wrote: "That would not be good for my productivity."

Localthunk also discussed potential additions to the game for the future. The likes of a run history page, a daily challenge mode, and physical merch are all on the cards.

Don't expect too much more complexity though. "I know that mechanic-creep is an issue in other games so while the more experienced players might want added layers of complexity, I don't think that is necessary to add depth to the game," said localthunk. "I would rather add more options, more opportunities for emergence, more secrets. Personally I don't really vibe with complex games anyway so I wouldn't ever want to make Balatro into something that requires a ton of prerequisite knowledge just to play at a beginner level."

Balatro is already a success story since its launch in February with overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam, despite controversy around its rating.

"Over the last few weeks it has taken over the gaming world completely, and I can see why," reads our Balatro Eurogamer review. "A poker roguelike is such a brilliant idea you almost don't need to make it to see how clever it is. There are a few of these, and Balatro is comfortably the best I've played. It really is ingenious - and it's also ingeniously simple."

Said localthunk of the game's success: "It hasn't sunk in yet, I'm just trying to take it a day at a time and not forget the reason I wanted to make this game in the first place. I love game dev and this is what I want to do as a career, so I am very grateful!"

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