Last week, the internet began to speculate that Gothic and Elex II developer Piranha Bytes was being shut down after fans noticed the studio’s website was essentially defunct. Many speculated Piranha Bytes was another casualty in owner Embracer Group’s purge of studios that began last year after a planned $2 billion deal with Saudi Arabia-backed Savvy Games Group fell through in 2023.
Studio closures at the hands of Embracer include Saints Row developer Volition Games and reformed TeamSplitters team Free Radical Design. Game Informer reached out to Piranha Bytes following last week’s speculation to see if it was, indeed, another closure at the hands of Embracer, and today, studio CEO Michael Rüve responded, stating the studio’s situation right now is difficult but that people shouldn’t write them off yet.
Here’s what Rüve’s statement says, in full:
“Dear fans, yes, it’s true. We, Piranha Bytes, are in a difficult situation. There are a lot of news about us circulating right now and this is our answer: Don’t write us off yet! We [will] do everything to continue creating worlds in which you can lose yourself. This is what our hearts have always beaten for. We are convinced that we will succeed. We are creative minds and there’s no lack of ideas! We stick together, no matter what.
“Now, we are focusing on this goal with all our strength and do whatever it takes to find a partner for this project. As soon as there [is] any news, we will share them with you. Thank you very much for your continuous support!”
This statement lines up with RPG Site’s reporting that Piranha Bytes is looking for a new publisher or buyer after Embracer decided to close the studio in November of last year. However, THQ Nordic, a publishing arm within Embracer, struck a deal with Embracer to give Piranha Bytes management more time to find a new publisher or buyer. This is likely the difficult situation Rüve’s statement is referring to, and the possibility of finding a new publisher or buyer is probably why he’s asking fans not to write the team off yet.
Only time will tell, but given the studio’s more than two decades of history in game development, and the human cost of studio’s closures and layoffs, here’s hoping the team finds a more stable owner or publisher.
2024 has already been marred by a heartbreaking string of layoffs, resulting in more than 3,000 jobs lost in the games industry and games-adjacent industry. And those job cuts come after a terrible 2023 where more than 10,000 developers and employees were laid off over the year.
Last week, Lords of the Fallen publisher CI Games laid off 10 percent of its staff. In this month alone, we learned Unity would be laying off 1,800 people by the end of March, and that Twitch was laying off 500 employees. Discord also announced it had laid off 170 employees. Game Informer covered layoffs happening at PTW, a support studio that’s worked with companies like Blizzard and Capcom, and at SteamWorld Build company, Thunderful Group, which let go of roughly 100 people, last week. Game Informer covered news about Dead by Daylight developer Behaviour Interactive reportedly laying off 45 people last week, too.
Striking Distance Studios, the team behind 2022’s The Callisto Protocol, laid off more than 30 employees in August of 2023. That same month, Mass Effect and Dragon Age developer BioWare laid off 50 employees, including long-time studio veterans. The following month, in September, Immortals of Aveum developer Ascendant Studios laid off roughly 45% of its staff, and Fortnite developer Epic Games laid off 830 employees.
In October of last year, The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog laid off at least 25 employees, and Telltale Games also underwent layoffs, although an actual number of affected employees has not yet been revealed. Dreams developer Media Molecule laid off 20 employees in late October.
In November, Amazon Games laid off 180 staff members, Ubisoft laid off more than 100 employees, Bungie laid off roughly 100 developers, and 505 Games’ parent company, Digital Bros, laid off 30% of its staff.
In December, Embracer Group closed its reformed TimeSplitters studio, Free Radical Design, and earlier in the year, Embracer closed Saints Row developer Volition Games, a studio with more than 30 years of development history. A few weeks before the winter holidays, Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering owner Hasbro laid off 1,100 employees.
The games industry will surely feel the effects of such horrific layoffs for years to come. The hearts of the Game Informer staff are with everyone who’s been affected by layoffs or closures.