The journey of Piranha Bytes seems to have come to an end after reportedly failing to secure funding to continue its operations. Meanwhile, the studio’s former creative lead has already founded a new independent studio.

Report: Piranha Bytes closed after failing to secure €3 million in funding

What happened to Piranha Bytes?

Piranha Bytes closed its doors at the end of June, Polish outlet CD-Action reported today. The publication cited only one anonymous source, but shared a couple of photos of the studio’s empty office with packed boxes and furniture.

First reports about the closure of Piranha Bytes appeared in January, with GameStar stating that Embracer Group tried to find a new owner for the studio, but eventually laid off staff in December 2023 and ceased the production on new games. “Don’t write us off yet!” Piranha said in a statement, adding that it was trying to resolve the difficult situation.

As the studio’s employee has told CD-Action, here is what led to Piranha Bytes’ closure:

  • Financing from Embracer Group allowed the studio to operate until June 2024;
  • Piranha tried to raise €3 million from outside investors to fund the development of its new game;
  • After a funding attempt failed and no one bought the company, it was eventually closed last month.

Piranha Bytes was acquired by THQ Nordic (subsidiary of Embracer Group) in 2019. However, the studio has apparently become the target of the Swedish holding company’s cost-cutting restructuring program. Since June 2023, it has laid off over 1,500 employees and closed or divested several studios, including Campfire CabalVolition, Free Radical Design, Gearbox Entertainment, Saber Interactive, and Pieces Interactive.

What is known about Pithead Studio?

On July 8, GameStar reported that Piranha Bytes veteran Björn Pankratz and his wife Jennifer have started their own company called Pithead Studio. They eventually made the official announcement on social media and shared some details in a YouTube video.

The couple left Piranha Bytes last November. At Pithead Studio, they will focus on “dense and dark action adventure games with deep stories and horror and RPG elements.”

Björn Pankratz joined Piranha Bytes in 1999, working in various positions ranging from game designer and writer to project manager and game director. His portfolio includes basically all of the company’s main games: Gothic 1-3, as well as the Risen and Elex series. Jenny Pankratz has worked at the studio since October 2008, serving as game and story designer.

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