A year of surprise hits continues as Balatro beats the peak player count of its greatest roguelike rival and becomes one of the highest-rated Steam games of all time

Balatro Joker card
(Image credit: Playstack)

One of Steam's highest-rated games of 2024 is a poker-inspired deck builder that's already managed to beat the all-time peak player count of its greatest roguelike rival.

After gaining a lot of attention as the deck builder darling of Steam Next Fest, Balatro - the recently-released roguelike from solo developer LocalThunk - has very quickly reached a few milestones in its first week. We've noticed this happening to a lot of indie games that have launched on Steam lately, such as Sheepy: A Short Adventure and Supermarket Simulator.

Balatro may have only launched eight days ago, but that's plenty of time for it to not only become one of Steam's top releases of 2024, but also the best-rated game of 2024 on the platform. As shown on SteamDB, Balatro has managed to gain a peak concurrent player count of 35,018 just over a week since its launch on February 20, 2024. 

In contrast to this, Slay the Spire, another well-known and beloved roguelike, is now trailing behind with a peak player count of 33,086. Although there's only a few thousand between the two, the difference here is that Mega Crit Games' roguelike was released five years ago now.  If you head on over to Steam 250, you'll also find Balatro sitting right at the top of the site's Best of 2024 list (according to user reviews), shortly followed by other big hitters of the year including Persona 3: Reload and Palworld

If this is the first time you've heard of Balatro, here's what you've been missing: The poker-inspired roguelike deck builder will have players creating "powerful synergies" and winning big using a combination of valid poker hands and unique Joker cards. Although this sounds fairly simple, Balatro has endless possibilities as every pick-up, discard, and Joker can change the course of your run with various wild abilities. 

Find out more about the deck builder's development in our interview with Balatro's anonymous developer

Hope Bellingham
News Writer

After studying Film Studies and Creative Writing at university, I was lucky enough to land a job as an intern at Player Two PR where I helped to release a number of indie titles. I then got even luckier when I became a Trainee News Writer at GamesRadar+ before being promoted to a fully-fledged News Writer after a year and a half of training.  My expertise lies in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, cozy indies, and The Last of Us, but especially in the Kingdom Hearts series. I'm also known to write about the odd Korean drama for the Entertainment team every now and then.