Balatro publisher Playstack Games has taken to social media to defend its poker roguelike after fans noticed it had been removed from certain stores.

Players started to point out Balatro’s disappearance over the last few days, with some taking to social media to express their concerns. Reddit user JustASmith27, for example, was unable to find the Nintendo Switch eShop store page in the U.K. Players from other countries, such as Australia, have reported that they are running into the same roadblock as well.

Mainly, the problem seems isolated to Nintendo Switch stores outside of the U.S. Playstack shared an explanation behind Balatro’s disappearance on X/Twitter, saying that the team is working “as hard as we can to get the game back on sale as soon as possible.” With some territories still able to purchase Balatro without issue, the publisher confirms its removal is tied to a sudden change in its age rating.

“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,” Playstack said, “due to a mistaken belief that the game ‘contains prominent gambling imagery and material that instructs about gambling.’”

Playstack adds that it addressed gambling concerns with the ratings board in October. At the time, Balatro was labeled 3+ after receiving an initial rating of 18+.

“During that specific appeal, the ratings board assured us ‘we have reviewed your product and determined that the disclosure of gambling themes was unwarranted,’” Playstack added. “The game content has not changed since the age rating was amended to a 3+.”

The Playstack team says they “fundamentally believe the ratings decision is unfounded,” mentioning that LocalThunk, Balatro’s sole developer, is “staunchly anti-gambling.” LocalThunk took to X/Twitter to share their own thoughts on the matter, doubling down on their stance against the accusation that Balatro contains any form of gambling.

“I do not condone gambling (staking something personally valuable on an uncertain event) nor do I believe that Balatro contains gambling,” the post says. “I did add risk/reward mechanics and RNG to Balatro, but these are core mechanics to the genre at large.”

While Playstack is confident Balatro will remain on PC storefronts like Steam, it’s not sure how other platforms will be impacted. It adds, “Please rest assured the game will be back up on sale, possibly with a temporary 18+ rating while we resolve the issue.”

Balatro launched for PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X | S on February 20, 2024. Although its Steam page boasts that it is “the definitive poker roguelike experience,” it also features a variety of gameplay twists, such as cards with unique abilities, a campaign, difficulty modes, and more.

“Combine valid poker hands with unique Joker cards in order to create varied synergies and builds,” its description says. “Earn enough chips to beat devious blinds, all while uncovering hidden bonus hands and decks as you progress. You’re going to need every edge you can get in order to reach the boss blind, beat the final ante and secure victory.”

Michael Cripe is a freelance contributor with IGN. He started writing in the industry in 2017 and is best known for his work at outlets such as The Pitch, The Escapist, OnlySP, and Gameranx.

Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter @MikeCripe.





Source link