The Witcher Author Claims CD Projekt Red Owes Him $16 Million in Unpaid Royalties

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Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, best known for his work on The Witcher series, is apparently having second thoughts regarding the deal he made with game developer CD Projekt Red over a decade ago. Back then, Sapkowski agreed to sell the rights to The Witcher license to CDPR for a fixed (and modest) fee. The deal seemed like it would benefit the author more than CDPR at the time since the developer was virtually unknown in the gaming world. Or any other world for that matter. However, thanks to that very deal CDPR ended up making a ton of money. None of which made its way into the author’s pockets. Presumably fed up with the whole situation, Sapkowski is now demanding a cut of the profits.

Sapkowski Demands the Equivalent of Over $16 Million

According to the author’s legal team, his cut should be between 5% and 15% of the profits CDPR made off The Witcher series. That translates to at least 16 million USD at the time of this writing. Earlier today, Sapkowski’s legal team forwarded a letter to CD Projekt Red that claims the author is entitled to this sum because the rights were supposed to be for a single game, not an entire trilogy. In other words, he should receive royalties for the other two games and their expansions. The lawyers also invoked an unusual Polish law involving royalties in order to back up their allegations. This law can only be invoked when an author receives compensation that’s much lower compared to the profits gained by individuals who used that author’s work. Needless to say, that certainly applies here.

The Witcher is a household name nowadays but that wasn’t always the case. Despite being a very popular book series in Poland, very few people outside of Eastern Europe knew about The Witcher before 2007 when developer CD Projekt Red released the first game based on the series. The Witcher gradually became more popular over the years thanks to CDPR and eventually grew into one of the most beloved game franchises of all time. Great success often brings with it great piles of money so CDPR ultimately profited much more off the license than Sapowski ever did. That said, the author’s claims aren’t exactly well founded.

The Developers Claim They Did Nothing Wrong

According to the developers, CDPR legally purchased the rights to The Witcher series from Andrzej Sapkowski to be used for games development. There was no mention of how many titles they would be allowed to develop. Furthermore, the company offered Sapkowski a percentage of the profits earned after releasing The Witcher but it was the author who demanded a fixed sum. Sapkowski himself admitted on numerous occasions that he did not have faith in CDPR nor did he believe The Witcher will have any success as a video game. Obviously, he was mistaken.

In spite of these recent developments, CD Projekt Red has stated that the company wishes to find a peaceful resolution to this problem. After all, the developers are huge fans of Sapkowski’s work and The Witcher games wouldn’t have existed without his books. On the other hand, the devs are unwilling to pay the author what he believes he is owed because they held up their part of the deal. Given CDPR’s great respect for Sapkowski’s work, it’s possible the author might receive some money if that means dropping the case but nowhere near the $16 million demanded by his lawyers.

Jason Moth

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