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Piranha Bytes has allegedly shut down; former employees establish Pithead studio.

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Rumors surfaced in January that the renowned game developer Piranha Bytes was actively seeking a new collaborator for their upcoming project, rather than opting for closure.

After several months of silence, reports from Polish site CD Action now indicate that as of the end of June, Piranha Bytes has officially shut down due to the termination of funding from parent company Embracer Group. Allegedly, the game in development at Piranha Bytes was a dark fantasy RPG crafted using Unreal Engine 5.

Having originated as an independent entity in 1997, Piranha Bytes underwent acquisitions by Phenomedia in 1999 and later by THQ Nordic two decades afterward. The studio is recognized for its specialization in creating expansive Western-style RPGs, most notably the acclaimed Gothic series, which has a dedicated following eagerly anticipating the remake of its inaugural installment by another division under THQ Nordic. Subsequently, Piranha Bytes ventured into fresh terrain with the Risen trilogy, set in a fantasy realm inspired by Mediterranean and tropical locales, as well as the unique science-fantasy blend of Elex and its sequel.

Despite these efforts, Piranha Bytes struggled to replicate the success of Gothic with their recent releases, culminating in the unfortunate closure. However, two stalwarts from the Piranha Bytes team, the veteran duo of Björn and Jennifer Pankratz, have now unveiled the establishment of a new venture named Studio Pithead, following their departure in late 2023.

In their announcement to the German press, the Pankratz couple expressed their intent to craft “distinctive and immersive indie games,” characterized by dark themes, action-packed adventures, elements of horror and RPG mechanics, as well as rich narrative experiences. While Studio Pithead plans to collaborate with external associates, a publishing partner has yet to be secured.

Given the nascent nature of the studio, it appears that enthusiasts may face an extended wait, possibly until the advent of the subsequent console generation.

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