CD Projekt RED's fantasy RPG series, The Witcher, has been hugely successful. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt continues to make bank despite being released all the way back in 2015, while spin-off GWENT: The Witcher Card Game slowly rakes it in too. However, the man behind The Witcher universe argues that the developer should not get to reap all of the rewards from its success.
This week, Andrzej Sapkowski, the Polish author who wrote the books which The Witcher games are based on, filed a demand of payment to CD Projekt RED. Sapkowski argues that he is owed PLN 60 million (which is equivalent to USD$16 million) in royalties. According to Sapkowski's document of demands, which CD Projekt RED has now published online, standard royalty rates regarding adaptations of works are between 5-15%.
The document also cites Article 44 of Poland's 1004 copyright law. It states that [Article 44] may be invoked when the compensation remitted to the author is too low given the benefits obtained in association with the use of that author’s work." As such, Sapkowski feels that he is owed at least 6% in royalties from CD Projekt RED.
Sapkowski's document also says that the initial agreement between himself and CD Projekt RED, which saw the author receive a lump sum rather than an agreement for royalties, "concerned only the first in a series of games." The author deems the release of the other games in The Witcher series, including the DLC, as "unlawful." This may mean that Sapkowski would also like a cut of any profits from The Witcher Netflix TV series.
Unsurprisingly, CD Projekt RED disagrees. It refutes Sapkowski's claims, calling them "groundless." The developer also says that it "legitimately and legally" acquired the copyright to use the author's creations for The Witcher games. Although the developer would like to reach an "amicable resolution" with the author, it has made its stance quite clear.
Less clear though, is what this might mean for the future of The Witcher game series. CD Projekt RED has already stated that it has no plans to make The Witcher 4, which means that development on a nonexistent sequel will be unaffected. But what about future updates to GWENT?
Other games, such as Friday the 13th: The Game, have been forced to halt production and hold fire on releasing any new content due to copyright disputes and fans will be hoping that the same doesn't happen to GWENT because of Sapkowski's demands. At this stage, there's no indication that such an outcome may happen but until this is resolved, both The Witcher fans and the CD Projekt RED legal team may be concerned.
Source: CD Projekt RED