The Witcher Author A. Sapkowski Demands Additional Royalties, CDPR Calls It 'Groundless'

CD Project Red appears to be in another dispute with The Witcher series creator and author Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski.

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NerdBurglars1031d ago

I can understand him being upset that they are making buckets of money from his creation, but he signed a contract and agreed to X amount of money. He can't just change his mind. It is a shame that this might prevent a future deal ever being made for more Witcher content, but I don't see how the developer is in the wrong here.

ArchangelMike1031d ago (Edited 1031d ago )

Agreed. CDPR still have the rights for more Witcher games though (see ThroneBreaker etc). They bought the rights to use the world and characters in games. Mr Sapkowski at the time didn't think games would make significant revenue and sold the rights to the games for a whopping one off lump of... $9,500. He didn't even ask for royalties. 0.o

Andraax1031d ago

CDPR offered him royalties and he rejected them for a fixed amount of money. Suck it up Sapkowski.

rainslacker1031d ago (Edited 1031d ago )

What's really sad is that the licensing costs is extraordinarily low. Even if its a marginal title that the author didn't think was worth that much, that is a pittance in today's world, even about a decade ago when it was paid.

I'd think that 50 grand + royalties would be the minimum to be honest. Maybe 100-250 grand without royalties depending on how well known the series was. Seems to me the author just took a quick payday for something he didn't think was worth it, which makes me question his own confidence in the project, and wonder why he should be entitled to more if he didn't see the potential. CDPR is the one that made the games popular, and they probably could have done it without the Witcher name attached. It's not like the series was well known before they got their hands on it, and they could have made their own story in a similar setting and had it be just as good.

The author agreed to the sum though, and while it would be nice of CDPR if they did compensate him some more, they are under no obligation that I know of unless there is more to the contract we don't know about. It'd just be them doing something nice, which isn't beyond them to be honest. But I believe it does set up a bad precedent.

Honestly, just seems that the author needs a new agent that understands the value, or potential value of an IP. Otherwise, no use crying over spilt milk. Author could easily spend that $9500 on lawyers and court costs to try and get more money, and still probably not win if the contract is in place.

abstractel1030d ago

CDPR vs Sapkowski somewhat similar to George Lucas vs 20th Century Fox. In both cases Sapkowski/20th Century Fox made bad deals in lack of belief whereas CDPR/Lucas believed.

I do feel bad for him, and maybe they could have thrown him a bone once it was successful but they were in no way obliged to and it's not like the gaming industry is a risk free business. CDPR has also shown they are willing to bet a lot of that earned money on a new franchise which is pretty gutsy.

Jdoki1031d ago

It would also be very interesting to see how his book sales spiked after the Witcher games released. I know I bought the books after playing the games. I am sure he has profited off of book sales thanks to the game.

The guy is an idiot, and clearly salty because Witcher 3 made so much money.

The one thing we should keep in mind though, is that this is a case being raised in Poland. So whilst it is easy to say 'he signed away his rights to the IP', we don't know the ins and outs of Polish contract law. There's some really bizarre wording in the document by his lawyers. But it seems more like a desperate shake down to me.

Lynx02071031d ago

"The one thing we should keep in mind though, is that this is a case being raised in Poland." - this.
There is very clear statement in the polish copyright legislation according to which he has right to demand pay rise.

ravinash1031d ago

Besides, isn't Netflix planning to make a TV series of The Witcher.
I'm assuming the story will come straight from the book, so how many royalties will he be getting from that?

I can understand why you would want a larger cut if you saw something you created being the main reason for someone else profit.
And If polish says your within your rights to review this, then sure i would look into it.

But you also want to make sure you keep a good relationship with the people that created the winning partnership. Otherwise you risk losing the whole thing.

Don't bite the hands that feeds you, but it's also a good idea not to try and shoo away the bloody horse.

rainslacker1031d ago (Edited 1031d ago )


While that may be so, he's already been paid, so how would a non-recurring sum of payment be later raised, since he has effectively already been paid for a single product of IP rights. That IP right transference was delivered, he was paid, and I can't see how there would be any way he can go back and demand more payment for what has already transpired.

That just seems like a legal loophole that could too easily be abused by any dishonest person who sells something at a set price, then decides they want more money.

You're right that Polish law is different than other countries, but this seems like a pretty cut and dry scenario for the terms that were given. If he had agreed to only the 3 games + the card game, and I assume some game merchandising some elements belong to CDPR for their own created work(artwork, their own game scenarios and stories not part of the original text, creatures, etc), then sure, he can ask for much more for any future licensing rights.

But licensing deals tend to be final in every part of the world, otherwise they create problems like this.

I think this guy really has profited much more off the games in the long run than the initial sum, and he should probably remember that. His IP is now worth a lot more than it was before, his book has sold more, and there is high potential for his IP to be brought up for some other medium, such as movies, TV's, comics, or stories written by other authors....or even himself. He didn't see the value before, so I don't see why he should be entitled to compensation because someone else showed him the way. Some authors understand the value of their IP, even if its not readily apparent, and don't just sign away rights for what is a minimal sum.

frostypants1031d ago (Edited 1031d ago )

Further, while they're making buckets of money, his book sales have likely exploded as well. It's not like he's not getting anything out of this beyond the contract money. I'm sure he's getting money from the upcoming series on Netflix as well.

oof461030d ago

Reminds me of Chuck Wepner. He turned down a percentage of the profits for Rocky, thinking it would be a bust and instead took a one time fee. Missed out on millions.

medman1030d ago (Edited 1030d ago )

The guy is upset because he didn't have the foresight to ask/demand a percentage of royalties on the back end. Boo hoo. The guy had no faith in the developer, and didn't think gaming was a big deal at all, get what you got. Deal with it. You signed the contract. You weren't duped. The developer put in all the hard work, now the guy wants a second bite at the apple? F up outta here.

joab7771030d ago (Edited 1030d ago )

I HATE this! They took a relatively unknown series of books (not that it was without its fans), and made it a worldwide phenomenon. They have brought so much attention to this IP.

I’d have to read more, but I’m not sure whether he owns any of the IP anymore. If so, get to WORK!!!! You now have a means to money that you never had before. If not, then probably should have been more careful.

CDPR was very good with the source material and gave the world something special.

Edit: I believe he still maintains rights to his start writing! Make some money and stop trying to steal from others’ hard work. It’s pathetic!

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 1030d ago
lelo2play1031d ago

Quite frequently, from what A. Sapkowski has said before, he looks like a real d*ck. He's always bitching and disgruntled about the Witcher game franchise.

Omnisonne1031d ago

Yeah, the books are nice but he needs to get over himself, TW3 is better. I'm guessing he's looking for a paycheck now that the books are mostly finished.

Movefasta19931031d ago

His books are nice? The first few are nice, the last three are amazing.

Enturax1031d ago

"Yeah, the books are nice but he needs to get over himself, TW3 is better."
I never heard from anyone who read the books that the games are better.

Omnisonne1031d ago (Edited 1031d ago )

When it comes to total entertainment value, I would place The Witcher 3 in particular above the books yes.
Storywriting between the two is a different matter, but I'm talking about the overall experience.

Lynx02071031d ago

Maybe he looks so, maybe he is. Doesn't matter, the law is the law and makes no exceptions.

Cobra9511031d ago

As far as I know, contract law is fairly uniform across the civilized world--as it should be, since it's mostly common sense. I agree to give you something valuable; you agree to give me something valuable in return. Signatures, done deal.

lelo2play1031d ago (Edited 1031d ago )

He claimed several times that he wanted all the royalty money before CD Projekt Red started making the games. He didn't believe the games would be successful... that's what he signed for and that's what he got. CD Projekt Red paid him and moved on in making the games.

... unfortunately for A. Sapkowski, the games were more popular then he expected... now he wants more money even if it's not on the contract... LOL

Chaos_Order1031d ago

Wow, what a disappointment. Sure, he's probably feeling pissed that he didn't ask for more in the initial deal, but let's be honest, the success of the games has transferred into more sales of his novels. Most people hadn't even heard of them before the games came along, it's given him tons of exposure. And as others have said, a deal was made, papers were signed.

1031d ago
rainslacker1031d ago

I think he disregarded just how much revenue games can bring in. If CDPR somehow misrepresented what was possible, then that'd be one thing, but I think even they didn't expect the success that they had with the series. He thought he'd take a paycheck, there would be one game, it probably wouldn't sell much, then there wouldn't be any more games made.

But in that, he disregarded that CDPR could have sold those rights to someone else, and they would have already made it worth more than what they brought it for with the release of the game. There may have been something in the contract which prevented that though.

He should have researched it more thoroughly, and when someone came knocking, his agent would should have maybe shopped the IP rights around, because if one person is interested, its likely someone else may have been interested as well.

For instance, George RR Martin apparently had an offer for a movie deal with his Game of Throne books. He shopped the IP around, and HBO gave him more money, and more creative control over the show itself. He made a lot more money off it, and it became wildly successful. The situation is a bit different, because his books were quite popular, but at the same time, he understood that his IP was worth money.

Lon3wolf1031d ago

Tbh how can you gauge how successful a new gaming IP would be and how to present that in an agreement of this kind?

Muckspread1030d ago

George are our R r ar r Martin

King_Noctis1031d ago

To be honest, most of Sapkowski‘s works wouldn’t have been as popular and as well known as they have been right now if it wasn’t for CDPR and the Witchers games. So in a way, he should have been thankful to CDPR.

If and when CDPR make another sequel to the Witchers, he gonna see even more money coming his way and his works will even be elevated to a higher height. So I really don’t understand why this guy is so greedy.

CarlDechance1031d ago

That is a fact. I read one of his collections. It wasn't bad, but my interest in Geralt from the game is the only thing that really compelled me to continue reading. It certainly wasn't Sapkowski's writing. lol. To be fair, it is a translation so maybe it is better in Polish. Don't know. Don't really care. Fact is, Sapkowski sold Witcher for a song and now he is bitter about it. If the original Witcher had lost money would he had offer to give some money back to CPDR? lol....nope.

rainslacker1031d ago

I think he's good at crafting a story and world. But I believe the translations fall a bit flat. At least the English one I read.

Overall, most people seem to think the books are really good, and tend to get better after the first three.

Lynx02071031d ago (Edited 1031d ago )

Are you serious? It was one of the most popular fantasy novels. In Poland it was as popular as Tolkien (and imo is much much better). Sure games give him some advertisement in the world (because we live in the world where most people doesn't read books and most of them surely don't understand how intertextual connections work in culture) but is that advertisement really worth anything if the author doesn't have money from it? Why everybody is supporting big corporation and no the real author here? And why you don't even check how it looks in polish law?

King_Noctis1031d ago (Edited 1031d ago )

I don’t support big corporations who take advantage of other people. But let be real here. Its Sapkowski himself who signed the contract to sell his work to CDPR. No one pointed a gun to his head to force him to do it. So how does he have any basis to ask them to give him royalty when he straight out rejected it in the first place and opted to get a one off payment instead?

Also, it is one thing to hate big corporations, but don’t you think they deserve to be treated fairly too? Because after all, those big corporations are composed of people who work for a living as well. They are not machines.

rainslacker1031d ago

I would maybe agree, except CDPR did offer him a couple choices. It was his own belief that the games wouldn't go anywhere, and it was his assessment that the IP was only worth $9500. That's a failing on his part to accept the one time payment, and for underestimating the value of his IP.

CDPR has always seemed like they were honest and willing to give what was due. I wouldn't even put it past them to actually pay him more money because they made so much. But I also believe that sets a bad precedent, and any author could just sell their IP rights for a quick payday, only to demand more later if something came of it.

That being said, The Witcher couldn't have been one of the most popular fantasy novels world wide for it to only net 9500 in IP licensing costs. That's a really low sum, and I don't really know how even CDPR thought that would be a good amount to spend for a game which had such a large budget. I think the series has become more popular through the games. I tend to read a lot of fantasy novels, and I had only heard of the series in passing a few times before the games came out.

CarlDechance1031d ago

Popular fantasy novel in Poland doesn't mean much to the rest of the world, dude. And better than Tolkein? Is that what you said? Because that is utterly ridiculous.

Lon3wolf1031d ago

If we don't read books as you just said, why would we support someone we don't read?

BlaqMagiq11030d ago

What part of "he signed a contract" do you not understand? CDPR offered royalties to him when they offered the contract. Sapkowski DECLINED. He wanted money now instead of later. CDPR honored their end of the contract and they are not entitled to give him another penny.

Are you saying CDPR should give him more because The Witcher is popular now? I'm sorry where was Sapkowski when the games blew up in the market? Whose hard work was it that made those games what they are today? Who put The Witcher on the map worldwide? Hint: It's not Sapkowski.

Your logic makes absolutely no sense.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 1030d ago
mkis0071031d ago

I might try anything if I had made such a huge mistake too. Though he should have done his due diligence before selling away all his work. License each game or have a clause for royalties after certain success.