Piranha Bytes, the Embracer-owned developer of Gothic, Risen, and Elex, has shut down

The world of Elex 2.
(Image credit: THQ Nordic)

The Embracer Group subsidiary Piranha Bytes has reportedly shut down. 

In January the developer told fans that it was eager “to find a partner” to ensure that its current projects would continue but, as of the end of June, it appears that the studio was unable to find a way to stay open.

Although there has been no official comment from Piranha Bytes or Embracer Group, the closure was reported by trade publication gamesindustry.biz, who cite a recent story from the German-language outlet Gamestar.

The studio, which was based in Germany, was well-known for its ambitious role-playing games (RPGs). This included the Gothic and Risen fantasy series, plus the open-world sci-fi adventures Elex and Elex 2. It was originally founded in 1997 and was eventually acquired by THQ Nordic and its parent company Embracer Group in 2019.

One of the oldest and most well-regarded RPG developers in the region, the closure of Piranha Bytes is undeniably a huge loss for the European game development scene. The studio was allegedly working on an unannounced project, which many speculated could be a third installment in the Elex franchise.

As disappointing as this news is, it doesn’t seem like it’s the end for Piranha Bytes or its beloved properties quite yet. A remake of the original Gothic is currently in the works at THQ Nordic studio Alkimia Interactive, having been announced back in 2019. It is set to be released for PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S later this year. At the time of writing, it seems as though its development has not been affected by the closure.

IGN also claims that two ex-Piranha Bytes developers, Björn Pankratz and Jennifer Pankratz, have founded a new indie studio, named Pithead Studio. Announced in a post to Twitter / X, the studio will focus on “creating unique and immersive games” which very much seems in keeping with the Piranha Bytes spirit.

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Dashiell Wood
Hardware Writer

Dash is a technology journalist who covers gaming hardware at TechRadar. Before joining the TechRadar team, he was writing gaming articles for some of the UK's biggest magazines including PLAY, Edge, PC Gamer, and SFX. Now, when he's not getting his greasy little mitts on the newest hardware or gaming gadget, he can be found listening to J-pop or feverishly devouring the latest Nintendo Switch otome.