TIL that Andrzej Sapkowski sold the rights to CD Projekt Red to create the Witcher video games for a lump sum of $9500

Read more: https://comicbook.com/gaming/news/the-witcher-rights-were-sold-to-cd-projekt-red-for-a-rock-bottom/

What do you think?

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  1. To be fair, CDPR had never made a game before. Most of what they had done was add Polish text and voice acting to existing games. Not like selling the rights to Activision or something.

  2. I remember he sued CD projekt Red last year.

    CD projeckt red immediately release a statement and willing to settle.

    Then no news.

    I assume now they reach a settlement and i presume he got royalties from the witcher game now.

  3. Well, to be fair it’s kind of a meme in Poland. Sapkowski hears “We’ve going to resurrect Geralt and Kaer Morhen will get attacked by dudes with a MAGIC F*CKING MANTIS!” And then he takes a lump sum instead of a percentage. Like someone else mentioned, CDPR wasn’t a dev back then, so there was no guarantee the game would take off like it did.

  4. How popular were the series before the video game? Was it even mainstream popular in Poland? Cause $9.5k seems not that much if something was already popular, and sought after.

  5. A little over 12000 USD today adjusted for inflation. He probably thought they’d never make the game or it would flop. In the early 2000s a game based on the witcher probably didn’t seem possible in Poland with current technology, which wasn’t a leading EU country at the time.

    I just want to say even for so little money this was a good deal. CDPR made the witcher series well known outside of poland and the games success (especially the witcher 3) were the reason the books were localized into several languages at all and the reason netflix optioned the books too. So in essence, this seemingly rip off deal made Sapkowski a ton of money in terms of copies of his books sold (assuming he didn’t negotiate with his publishers as badly).

  6. I bet that game really upped his book sales, I have but have never finished Witcher 3. Because of it I read the books and watched the Netflix series. Books are pretty good, ending is rushed.

  7. I mean, honestly, I kind of get it.

    Previous attempts to adapt the books for video games crashed and burned. The company that *tried* even had experience in making games. CDPR didn’t. There were some movies, but they were about as high budget as you’d expect “fantasy movie made in 1990s Poland” to be. There were a few other things—a TTRPG I think?—that never were more than a curiosity.

    And yes, the books were popular in Poland, Czechia, Germany, etc., but catering to the fan-base in those markets would get you, at most, a *modest* success, *assuming* CDPR actually made it and *assuming* they didn’t fold and *assuming* they made a decent game (which they’d shown no ability to do at that point).

    On top of everything else, it isn’t like today where you have some legit studios in Eastern Europe—4A in Ukraine, CDPR in Poland, Bohemia Interactive in Czechia. Back when Witcher 1 came out, Eastern European video games were mostly known for being incredibly niche, punishing, and janky, and not having a ton of mass appeal. (And I’ll note that, if you go back, Witcher 1 is *janky as fuck.*)

    It’s really amazing just how much the Witcher games broke the trend and were a success *despite everything.*

  8. The article fails to mention that after Witcher 3, which no doubt massively boosted his book sales, he sued CDPR. A settlement was reached, but terms were undisclosed.

    He was also a dick and said his books boosted the sale of the game. Pretty much was opposite since the books weren’t that well known outside of Poland/Europe.

  9. He was offered either shares of the revenue or a total payment. He decided for the latter. So, from a business pov no hard feelings towards him. It was his choice.

  10. And then he threw a fucking massive fit like an infant and pursued legal action against them because, by his own admission, he failed to understand how popular games were, and also failed to do any research into it so he didn’t comprehend what he was doing even when CD Projekt Red trying to get him to sign for a percentage cut he refused thinking they were scamming him.

    Sapkowski is a known arsehole.

  11. I think CDPR did so much to popularise the witcher franchise that $9500 was actually a good deal.

    The book sales and TV contracts that came afterwards must have been lucrative.

  12. Interesting, I wonder if it’s due to difference in audience but somewhat similar scenario you’d find most people still support Alan Moore when he insisted he was screwed over by DC when they ended up deciding to keep publishing Watchmen in perpetuity going against his expectations for a one Trade-Paperback run after and having the rights revert to him (As the norm for the time was nothing ever gets printed in perpetuity). Granted Moore’s contempt and disdain is also much more justified in the longrun when DC ended up just hellbent on acquiring any other small publishers he decided to work for. Still you can also argue he just lacked foresight.

    I still do think that despite his poor character it’s still a win for creator’s rights, and it would be pretty great if more creators had this option, off the top of my head is pretty much most creators involved with Marvel. (Granted if it’s the MCU most people much more aggresively defend it’s the creator’s fault for not having foresight they could have written something that would have been adapted and and made money)

  13. There is law in Poland that protects artists in such cases which made him get a fair amount after The Witcher got super successful. I believe he had to sue CDPR for that though.

  14. IMO if we see the bigger picture, he still made a lot more money indirectly from that deal.

    The game definitely made the novels more popular outside of Poland, which in turn lead to the Netflix series. So overall he should be happy.

  15. Sapkowski thought games were dumb and kept downplaying the success of the games as “people only buy them because it has my name on it”.

    It’s kinda poetic justice that he ended up losing out on so much money because he was being such an uptight ass about it.

  16. Sapkowski really is one of those people who seem to go out of their way to appear like a complete arsehole who has absolutely no appreciation for the thing that made him and his work famous simply because he doesn’t like it.

    He has openly stated that he think video games (and TV for that matter) cannot be used to tell a good story and they are played on by a small minority of “losers”. Its the whole reason he only accepted chump-change for the rights to the Witcher universe when he sold it to CDPR and he was that sure of his own ignorant and pig-headed views that games are worthless that he even refused their offer of royalty payments.

    Imagine that; turning down *free money* because you are so arrogant in your belief that video games are only played by losers and so the royalties will be abysmal and not even worth it. Just how stuck up their own arse can someone be.

    Then after seeing firsthand at how utterly stupid and ignorant his decision was to refuse royalties from CDPR when Witcher 3 became one of the most successful video games of all time and has now spawned its own Netflix show, he has the absolute nerve to *sue* CDPR demanding they give him more money even though he signed away the Witcher and refused royalties *all in writing*.

    And then even after all this he still stubbornly refuses to admit that the video games are what made his books more popular, despite the fact that is obviously how it went. The author of the Metro series directly called him out on this as well, as he knows video games have a much wider reach than books these days and rightly called his statements BS.

    Sapkowski really is just some bitter, arrogant little old man who stubbornly refuses to acknowledge his views were wrong in every sense of the word and somehow finds it insulting that people love the games and series *despite the fact its all based on the world he created*. Its a shame that such a creative mind is bogged down amid a quagmire of self-righteousness, antiquated viewpoints and bitterness.

    Honestly, I was disgusted that his case even got to a courtroom and that CDPR even bothered to accommodate him. He made a very stupid mistake and he should have paid for it by watching the millions he *could* have got, go to someone else.

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