The Witcher author Sapkowski is demanding $16m from game developer CD Projekt

The Witcher author Sapkowski is demanding $16m from game developer CD Projekt

Polish author and The Witcher creator Andrej Sapkowski has requested that developer CD Projekt RED give him $16m in royalties.

The writer has demanded six per cent of profit generated by The Witcher video game series. Sapkowski's lawyers peg this figure at zł1bn ($270m) per CD Projekt's own financial release for the end of the 2017 fiscal year. Six per cent of this comes to $16m.

Sapkowski's representatives point out that the norm for this sort of a deal is between five and 15 per cent, so this is at the low end - though not the lowest.

When CD Projekt RED acquired the rights to the Polish fantasy blockbuster books, it offered Sapkowski a slice of proceeds, but the author asked for a larger flat fee.

Where in European or American law, a deal is closed and legally binding, in Polish law it can be subject to change if the amount generated by a writer's work far exceeds the terms of the initial agreement. In this case, Mr Sapkowski will have received a very small fee for The Witcher copyright compared to the overall revenue generated.

Furthermore, Sapkowski's lawyers claim that the copyright deal made between the writer and the game developer only applied to the first entry in the series.

CD Projekt has responded, calling Sapkowski's request's groundless, arguing that it acquired the rights to The Witcher franchise fair and square.

So it now looks like this matter will be going to court.

It's worth noting that in the past Sapkowski has been rather dismissive of the video games. Not only did he opt to take a larger upfront fee opposed to a slice of profits, he has refuted that the video games helped make the overall franchise more popular globally - something which is somewhat laughable.

It's likely this case has arisen out of the deal surrounding the Netflix TV series based on the books starring Superman actor Henry Cavil. In hiring someone to negotiate the rights, it's possible the representatives in question looked at the IP as a whole and saw that Mr Sapkowski didn't exactly get the best deal - his own fault - and they are trying to rectify this situation. It's even possible that whoever wanted to purchase the rights for a TV show saw the low price the author gave for the video game IP and tried to low-ball.

CD Projekt has said it won't be doing a new Witcher video game any time soon. The video game series turned ten last year


PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.