CD Projekt Red makes peace with original Witcher author

After years of bad blood and disagreement, CD Projekt Red and Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski have made peace. It's a holiday miracle.

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Far back in the day, Andrzej Sapkowski didn’t mind letting a video game company use his Witcher series to make some video games. He didn’t believe games were that important and had no idea CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher would take off and make all the money. All of it. It didn’t stop him from trying to renegotiate for more once he realized just how much he undercut himself, which has been a source of frustration and disagreement between the author and CDPR for years. That bad blood is finally coming to an end. CD Project Red and Andrzej Sapkowski have signed a new deal and are apparently on good terms again.

CD Projekt Red announced the new agreement between CDPR and Andrzej Sapkowski on December 20, 2019. Nothing is disclosed on what CD Projekt Red is giving Sapkowski or what Sapkowski is offering in return on the agreement, but it would appear that the many years of disagreement between Sapkowski and CDPR have finally come to an end.

With the Netflix series bringing even more of a spotlight onto The Witcher brand, a mended relationship between the author and CDPR will probably be helpful to both parties in the future.
With the Netflix series bringing even more of a spotlight onto The Witcher brand, a mended relationship between the author and CDPR will probably be helpful to both parties in the future.

Much of the issue comes from the fact that Sapkowski licensed the Witcher name for an up-front fee rather than percentages over time. He could have never guessed that The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings would become a breakout hit or that The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt was so good, it would earn high praise, reviews, and accolades throughout the gaming community, including the 2015 Shacknews Game of the Year, as well as the #1 spot on the Shacknews Community’s Games of the Decade.

It’s unknown what happens from here. The Witcher brand is still very active with an ongoing Netflix series starring Henry Cavill, and CD Projekt Red is neck deep in ensuring the success of their much anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 in 2020’s video game release calender. That said, with how well Witcher 3 did and how excited everyone has been for the Netflix series, we have little doubt that CDPR and Sapkowski would mind returning to the Witcher series under more amicable circumstances.

News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he's not handing out beatdowns in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his partner, he's searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people inside and outside the South Texas area. You can also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    December 20, 2019 4:40 PM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, CD Projekt Red makes peace with original Witcher author

    • reply
      December 20, 2019 4:49 PM

      Was it a money thing or direction they took the games?

      • reply
        December 20, 2019 4:53 PM

        Money.

        Way back, the author cared little about video games, so CD Projekt got a license dirt cheap. Then the games took off (particulary after witcher 3) and the author suddenly was like "Uh I should have a lot more". He wanted something on the order of $16M in past royalties.
        Now, I'm sure CD Projekt had a case not to give that to him, but it now sounds like their license was also coming due, so as to make right and assure more Witcher games, they settled somewhere between, and have a license that gives the author better royalties (reading between the lines).

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        December 20, 2019 4:56 PM

        It was money. Back before the first game CD Projekt offered the author a percentage of all future game profits for the rights. The author not thinking the game would make money instead opted for a lump sum.

        When The Witcher 3 came out and was a huge hit the author said he made an unfair deal which started the conversation that let to this agreement.

      • reply
        December 20, 2019 5:06 PM

        Money. He sold them the rights for cheap early on because he didn't think much of games, but when the series was a huge success, he came asking for 16 million: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/327758/The_Witcher_author_wants_16_million_in_royalties_from_CD_Projekt_Red.php

        Looks like they finally worked out a deal, which is nice. I assume he did deserve more than he got early on, but he definitely seemed out of touch when it came to the popularity of the games and the wider attention they brought to his books.

        But Sapkowski is on record as claiming that for every reader he gained thanks to the success of the games, he lost another. Does he still believe that?

        "I think the result would be about equal, yes. If anything, there are more people who have played the games because they read the books. That's my count, but I'm not sure. I never did any studies."


        https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wn938w/a-no-bullshit-conversation-with-the-authors-behind-the-witcher-and-metro-2033

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          December 20, 2019 6:57 PM

          Thanks to the games, he probably sold a heap of books and got a TV show.

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      December 20, 2019 7:01 PM

      i’ve liked the author less after hearing about these complaints. he took easy money early and complained later after making the wrong choice, then dismisses any sales in the books as coming from the games because of what is purely nonsense reasoning. i bought most the novels because of the game, but sure i bet there’s someone who didn’t buy the books... in spite of the games? makes sense

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        December 20, 2019 7:58 PM

        He definitely has a bitter old man vibe going.

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          December 20, 2019 8:31 PM

          He is even by his fans regarded as "dificult/unpleasant" but he is right, polish law has protection for people who ended up getting a raw deal, which getting 8000 bucks or so for what ended up a massive hundreds of million dollar success is pretty self evident. he is also correct about various other issues, things like the games overwriting and interfering with the books. Want an example: triss has a minor role in the books, there is like a half sentence about the shimmer of read in her brown hair, and boom cdpr made her his love interest with flaming red hair. Ciri and yeneffer didn't even show up until Witcher 3. And it shows, you have game fans going apeshit over every detail of the series trailer. People who will clearly never read the books either have not only taken claim to their Fandom but they get super defensive about their perceived Canon.

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            December 21, 2019 2:42 AM

            He never got a raw deal though. He was offered royalties and turned it down.

            Basically he is an idiot and falsely unpleasant fellow.

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              December 21, 2019 3:00 AM

              Lets assume cdpr didn’t literally build their existence on his decades of work, his world design, stories, characters and basically everything that made people tolerate witcher 1 being a broken piece of shit held together with spit and bubblegum in the aurora engine, with 1 minute loading times the second you entered/left a room (for months after release until it wa patched).

              Even then, the second the series blew up, there was a discrepancy between his payout and the value cdpr made on further iterations even if he agreed to it. The legal framework exist to protect people for the very situation and it is a good thing.

              Being "an idiot" or not having the greatest business acumen applies to 90% of the population and having legal protections in place the same way we have for children in a world where people get fucked over by giant corporations is something people should celebrate rather than going full dystopian american turning into the extended defense corps of the studio.

              As someone who used to worked there, you want to participate in the success of the studio when it rakes in the money, wouldn’t it be great if you were also protected by a legal framework that would save you from a lot of the shitty practices that are part of working in games?

              The guy is super unpleasant in interviews but he has valid points, legally and ethically.


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