Piranha Bytes, a German studio responsible for Gothic, Risen, and ELEX, is currently part of the Embracer Group, which is undergoing a massive wave of layoffs. Amidst this, rumors have surfaced suggesting the potential closure of Piranha Bytes.
Here’s what the rumors have been saying:
- Embracer supposedly decided to shut down Piranha Bytes in November 2023.
- The management of THQ Nordic, which includes Piranha Bytes, convinced Embracer to give the studio more time to find a publisher or buyer. According to the agreement, if a publisher or buyer is found, Piranha Bytes will retain its name and rights to ELEX (but not Gothic).
- Piranha Bytes did start looking for a buyer, but in December, studio employees began receiving layoff notifications.
- All projects at the studio were halted.
- In November, the creative director, Björn Pankratz, left Piranha Bytes. Rumor sources claim Pankratz was not fond of others’ ideas; the team wanted to return to Gothic or something similar, but Pankratz was more interested in ELEX as his creative endeavor and wished to work on a new installment.
- ELEX II faced commercial failure, putting the studio at risk of closure. Allegedly, Embracer is currently interested in projects that bring immediate profits since the group lacks funding for long development cycles.
German media notes that the layoffs are prolonged due to labor regulations in Germany, so formally, Piranha Bytes may exist on paper for quite some time, but not in practice.
Until today, the rumors remained unconfirmed. However, Piranha Bytes has now officially acknowledged their current difficulties on their social media account.
Yes, it’s true. We at Piranha Bytes are going through a tough situation. There are many news stories circulating about us, and here’s what we want to say in response: don’t count us out!
We’re doing everything possible to continue creating worlds for you to immerse yourselves in. Our hearts beat for this purpose.
We are confident that we will overcome this. We are creative people, and ideas are not in short supply! We stand together despite everything.
We are focused on this goal and are directing all efforts to find a partner for this project. As soon as there is news, we will definitely share it. Thank you so much for your unwavering support!
In summary, Piranha Bytes neither confirmed nor denied specific points from the rumors (including the possible closure). However, based on the phrase “find a partner for this project,” it seems the studio is indeed parting ways with Embracer. The exact nature of the project is not specified – possibly due to translation difficulties from German.
According to information from German Wikipedia, Piranha Bytes’ games have relatively modest sales. After parting ways with Gothic, the studio released five projects, with positive commercial achievements mentioned only for the first Risen in 2009 and the first ELEX in 2017.
Meanwhile, Gothic lives on as another studio is working on a remake of the first installment. The last time the updated original was showcased was in August 2023, after the Embracer layoffs began. Consequently, this game is unlikely to be affected.