Classic RPG developer that helped shape The Witcher reportedly closes as two veteran devs appear to jump ship to their own new indie studio

A screenshot of a character with a sword fighting a dragon in Gothic 2.
(Image credit: Piranha Bytes)

Classic German game dev studio Piranha Bytes, which is arguably best known for its iconic RPG series Gothic, has reportedly closed its doors months after revealing that it was in "a difficult situation."

That's according to Polish news outlet CD-Action, which reports that an anonymous Piranha Bytes employee tells the site that the studio ceased its operations at the end of last month. This would mean that it closed around five months after the studio put out a statement on Twitter acknowledging the "news about us circulating right now," at which point it asked fans, "Don't write us off yet!"

At the time, it pledged that it would "do everything to continue creating worlds in which you can lose yourself," and said "We are convinced that we will succeed." To that end, it was in the process of seeking out a partner. According to this latest report, it sounds like this might not have worked out, but this is yet to be officially confirmed by Piranha Bytes, THQ Nordic (which the studio is a subsidiary of), or owner Embracer Group.

There's no doubt that the studio's impact has been enormous. As well as developing the Risen, ELEX, and Gothic games, it's known that Gothic inspired CD Projekt RED devs when it came to developing The Witcher games. One YouTube video from 2018 points to an old interview with CD Projekt's head of studio, Adam Badowski, in which he says that "Our gameplay goal and dream is to copy what we know from Gothic," and calls it "a legendary series, at least for us." Similarly, in a PC Gamer interview from 2014, The Witcher 3's lead quest designer Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz says: "It's quite similar, the Gothic series, in terms of quest design and how we organize the story."

Just yesterday, however, two Piranha Bytes veterans confirmed that they've now opened their own indie game studio. Under Pithead Studio, Jennifer and Björn Pankratz hope to "develop immersive and fantastic indie games." It's not currently clear what they have in the works, but it sounds like we can expect updates on their official YouTube channel.

Embracer Group quietly canceled 29 unannounced games and shut 7 studios within six months last year.

Catherine Lewis
News Writer

I'm one of GamesRadar+'s news writers, who works alongside the rest of the news team to deliver cool gaming stories that we love. After spending more hours than I can count filling The University of Sheffield's student newspaper with Pokemon and indie game content, and picking up a degree in Journalism Studies, I started my career at GAMINGbible where I worked as a journalist for over a year and a half. I then became TechRadar Gaming's news writer, where I sourced stories and wrote about all sorts of intriguing topics. In my spare time, you're sure to find me on my Nintendo Switch or PS5 playing through story-driven RPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles and Persona 5 Royal, nuzlocking old Pokemon games, or going for a Victory Royale in Fortnite.