The legendary Piranha Bytes, the studio behind the role-playing series Gothic, Risen, and ELEX, may become the next victim of the reorganization of the Embracer Group. This was reported by the German edition of GamesWirtschaft.

Rumors around the possible sale of Piranha Bytes have been circulating since the fall of 2023, when THQ Nordic, which includes the studio, was already looking for a buyer for this asset. Now GamesWirtschaft has noticed changes in the database of the Federal Ministry for the Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, which, among other things, is responsible for paying subsidies for game development in Germany. Piranha Bytes claimed one of the subsidies, in the amount of €3.2 million, with a project codenamed WIKI6, which is probably Elex 3. The project seems to have disappeared from the ministry’s website, but it is still listed as a subsidy.

As it turned out later, the project changed its name to Currywurst, and the website was not updated due to a mistake. But this does not calm down GamesWirtschaft journalists. In their opinion, renaming the project and receiving subsidies for it is an attempt to leave the studio with a good “dowry” in case the rights to the studio and trademark are transferred to a new publisher or investor.

According to GamesWirtschaft, the Piranha Bytes website is just an empty business card, the YouTube channel is not updated, and the creative director and Piranha Bytes veteran Bjorn Pankratz has already left the studio.

Part of the problems of a small studio, and Piranha Bytes has only 35 employees, are related to the failure of ELEX II, which was released in 2022 almost at the same time as Elden Ring and was generally a very old-fashioned game that was met with little enthusiasm. By the way, Piranha Bytes has almost nothing to do with Gothic 1 remake, which is currently being developed by Alkimia Interactive in Spain.

Since the beginning of 2023, Embracer Group has already closed a number of studios – Plucky Bytes, Vermila Studios, Campfire Cabal, Goose Byte, Volition (Descent, FreeSpace, Red Faction, Saints Row) and Free Radical Design (TimeSplitters, Second Sight), and made a number of layoffs in other studios. So Piranha Bytes may indeed be next.