Balatro developer admits he’s ‘not very good’ at his own game

A screenshot from Balatro showing a selection of Joker cards.
(Image credit: Playstack)

The solo developer of roguelike deckbuilder game Balatro has admitted that he’s “not very good” at his own game, and that he’s always “shocked” when players manage to reach extremely high scores since he “can’t.”

Balatro, if you were unfamiliar, is described as a “poker-inspired roguelike” which challenges players to put together unique builds and create synergies, using special cards with point multipliers, abilities and more in order to rack up the most points possible. It’s by no means a run-of-the-mill card game, and there are plenty of ways for players to approach its systems to craft their own winning strategies.

In an interview with PC Gamer, developer LocalThunk acknowledged the incredible feats that particularly skilled players are able to pull off, with some able to score well into the millions from just one hand. 

“I'm very shocked when that happens because I'm not very good at this game,” the developer said. “I do get surprised when people are able to do stuff like that, because I can't.”

That might be a slightly surprising admission to hear from a developer about their own game, but considering how deep Balatro can go, it’s also quite understandable. With that said, in the same interview, LocalThunk also said that he doesn’t play poker in real life, and that generally speaking, he doesn’t really “care very much” about it, which is pretty amazing given Balatro's ties to the game.

Regardless of LocalThunk’s personal Balatro skills or love of real-life poker, there’s no doubt that the roguelike has been a hit. Within 72 hours of the game’s launch, it managed to sell over 250,000 copies across all platforms - LocalThunk said at the time that players’ “enthusiasm has been overwhelming.”

Looking for more games like Balatro? Be sure to check out our roundup of the best roguelike games for more titles with an engaging loop. You can expand your gaming library further with our picks for the best indie games

Catherine Lewis
News Writer, TechRadar Gaming

Catherine is a News Writer for TechRadar Gaming. Armed with a journalism degree from The University of Sheffield, she was sucked into the games media industry after spending far too much time on her university newspaper writing about Pokémon and cool indie games, and realising that was a very cool job, actually. She previously spent 19 months working at GAMINGbible as a full-time journalist. She loves all things Nintendo, and will never stop talking about Xenoblade Chronicles.