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Embracer-owned Gothic, Risen and ELEX developer Piranha Bytes closes

Former leaders found new indie studio.

ELEX 2 artwork showing a spaceman in a helmet.
Image credit: Piranha Bytes.

Piranha Bytes, the Embracer-owned German studio behind the Gothic, Risen and ELEX series, has reportedly shut down.

The embattled publisher Embracer had been seeking a buyer for Piranha Bytes as part of its vast and brutal swathe of cost-cutting that saw multiple studios shut and more than 4500 people lose their jobs - though ultimately was unsuccessful.

Job losses at Piranha Bytes were first reported at the end of last year and the company acknowledged earlier this year "a difficult situation" as it faced potential closure. Now a fresh report today by German website GameStar has confirmed the studio formally shut at the end of June, with its leaders now founding a new indie studio.

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Pithead Studio, as the fresh indie outfit is named, has been founded by Piranha Bytes' Björn Pankratz and Jennifer Pankratz to continue their former studio's focus on role-playing games.

This morning, Pithead Studio officially announced its existence with a post on X, and released a new YouTube video discussing what's next.

"We founded a new studio last Thursday named Pithead Studio," they say, explaining the name as a nod to the mine shaft entrances found in their local region.

Details on what exactly happened in the final weeks and months of Piranha Bytes are thin on the ground, though the pair promise to explain more in further videos, set to be published on their YouTube channel each Monday.

As for Embracer, meanwhile, in April the publisher announced its plan to split into three companies, including "Middle-earth Enterprises and Friends".

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