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Piranha Bytes Shut Down

Gothic, Elex Developer Pirahna Bytes Has Reportedly Shut Down

by Marcus Stewart on Jul 08, 2024 at 04:16 PM

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Piranha Bytes, the developer of series such as Elex, Gothic, and Risen, has been shut down. The studio was owned by Embracer, which had been seeking a buyer for the German developer as part of its ongoing cost-cutting restructuring following failed $2 billion deal with Saudi Arabia-backed Savvy Games Group last year. 

It was reported that Pirahna Bytes was looking for a new publisher following job cuts last year. In January, following a period of radio silence and inactivity from the studio, CEO Micahel Rüve addressed reports of an impending closure by stating the company was in a “difficult situation” while expressing optimism about finding a partner by saying, “Don’t write us off yet!” 

However, German website GameStar (as surfaced by Eurogamer) published a story reporting the studio was officially shut down in late June. Despite this report, there still has not been an official  announcement of closure from Embracer or Pirahna (the studio's website remains inactive, however), and details about what exactly happened are scarce. Game Informer has contacted Pirahna's publisher THQ Nordic for comment and will update this story with a response should we receive one. 

However, earlier today, Pirahna leaders Björn Pankratz and Jenny Pankratz announced the formation of Pithead Studio, a new indie studio. In an announcement video, the pair acknowledges Pirahna's silence over the past few months and says they plan to answer questions about Pithead's founding on their YouTube channel starting each Monday. 

Piranha Bytes was founded in 1997 and is perhaps best known for creating the Gothic series. The studio also developed the three Risen titles and the Elex series; its final release was Elex II in 2022. A remake of Gothic 1 is currently in development by a different studio, Alkimia Interactive. Piranha Bytes was acquired by THQ Nordic in 2019, itself a publishing subsidiary of Embracer Group.

If true, this news would represent the latest Embracer casualty following the closure of Alone in the Dark developer Pieces Interactive last month. After months of layoffs, studio closures (including Saints Row developer Volition Games and Timesplitters developer Free Radical), and selling off its properties, Embracer split itself into three companies in April: Middle-earth & Friends, Coffee Stain & Friends, and Asmodee. 

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