Former Gothic and Risen devs found new studio

Looks like Piranha Bytes is sleeping with the fish
Pithead Studio

It looks like Piranha Bytes is done for – the iconic German studio behind Gothic and Risen, two of the most shining examples of Eurojank in video game history, seems to be gone for good. It confirmed earlier this year that it was in financial trouble and was looking for a new partner to complete its current project, with Embracer Group and THQ Nordic seemingly having cut their ties to the Essen-based company.

That search, it looks like, proved to be futile. Though there is no official announcement about the closure to be found, the crucial clue comes in the form of a new studio founding: Björn and Jenny Pankratz, two key members of the team at Piranha Bytes, have left to open their own company, which they’ve called Pithead Studio, according to an announcement on social media. Björn Pankratz formerly worked as Piranha Bytes’ creative director, Jenny Pankratz as game designer.

Piranha Bytes’ social media accounts have remained silent ever since that message about looking for a new backer, which is doing little to calm the speculation about the studio's fate.

Aside from the Pankratz couple, several other members of Piranha Bytes that have been with the team for many years have left over the last couple of months and weeks – so even if, by some miracle, Piranha Bytes as a company continues to exist, the people who’ve made its most iconic games are already gone.

According to Polish website CDAction, which cites an unnamed former employee of the studio as a source, Piranha Bytes ceased operations at the end of June 2024 due to its funds having run out.


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Marco Wutz

MARCO WUTZ

Marco Wutz is a writer from Parkstetten, Germany. He has a degree in Ancient History and a particular love for real-time and turn-based strategy games like StarCraft, Age of Empires, Total War, Age of Wonders, Crusader Kings, and Civilization as well as a soft spot for Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail. He began covering StarCraft 2 as a writer in 2011 for the largest German community around the game and hosted a live tournament on a stage at gamescom 2014 before he went on to work for Bonjwa, one of the country's biggest Twitch channels. He branched out to write in English in 2015 by joining tl.net, the global center of the StarCraft scene run by Team Liquid, which was nominated as the Best Coverage Website of the Year at the Esports Industry Awards in 2017. He worked as a translator on The Crusader Stands Watch, a biography in memory of Dennis "INTERNETHULK" Hawelka, and provided live coverage of many StarCraft 2 events on the social channels of tl.net as well as DreamHack, the world's largest gaming festival. From there, he transitioned into writing about the games industry in general after his graduation, joining GLHF, a content agency specializing in video games coverage for media partners across the globe, in 2021. He has also written for NGL.ONE, kicker, ComputerBild, USA Today's ForTheWin, The Sun, Men's Journal, and Parade. Email: marco.wutz@glhf.gg