The Witcher author, Andrzej Sapkowski originally sold the rights to The Witcher for $4000 in 1998, according to Polish video game journalist and now Marketing Manager for CD Projekt Red, Marcin Kosman.
In a recent interview with Eurogamer, the Polish author expressed his regret over eventually selling all of his rights to CD Projekt Red for The Witcher, stating: “I was stupid enough to sell them [CD Projekt Red] rights to the whole bunch. They offered me a percentage of their profits. I said, ‘No, there will be no profit at all – give me all my money right now! The whole amount.’ It was stupid. I was stupid enough to leave everything in their hands because I didn’t believe in their success. But who could foresee their success? I couldn’t.”
According to Kosman, who also works as Marketing Manager for CDP, Metropolis Software originally paid Sapkowski 15,000 Polish Zloty, which roughly converts to $4000 USD to produce a game based on Sapkowski’s fantasy novels. That particular game never saw the light of day and a decade later the studio was bought up by CD Projekt Red, who followed up on that acquisition by acquiring a separate license from Sapkowski for an unknown price for the entirety of the writer’s rights to The Witcher.
It’s worth pointing out that the money received by Sapkowski from Metropolis Software is completely separate from the fee paid by CDP a few years later, as Kosman points out:
— Marcin Kosman (@Kosowsky_) May 25, 2017
CD Projekt Red attempted to negotiate with Sapkowski to spread out royalties over lengthy periods, but the author opted to take the money up front, a decision he still regrets today. Reports suggest the writer returned to CDP after The Witcher became successful in an attempt to re-negotiate with the studio, an attempt that was rejected.
Under CD Projekt Red, The Witcher series has truly flourished, becoming one of the biggest and best-loved RPG series of all time, with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt scooping over 100 different awards following its release on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.