How CD Projekt Dropped The Mic At Investors Conference Call And Shut Down Sapkowski's Threats
Most gamers can agree that CD Projekt Red is a pretty great video game publishing company, mainly because they created one of the best games of all time, ‘The Witcher 3’. They also have pretty great downloadable content or DLC, and all in all, they take care of their faithful players. Furthermore, CEO Adam Kicinski recently made a comment during a conference call that got everyone’s attention. Here are more details.
Investors’ conference call
This kind of call is where most companies talk to their investors and address their concerns regarding projects or their money. They also emphasize the best successes of the business, and you get to learn a lot from these conversations. For example, one of the most crucial things you can notice is the values that a game publisher has.
Sadly, this industry is filled with problems like broken games, money cash grabs, and asset exchanges. Some companies lock essential content in their game to make players pay more for something they have already purchased. The list goes on and on in the shady practices of the world of gaming. Therefore, fans are always worried about how an individual company will earn money.
However, CEO Adam Kicinski addressed many of those concerns in a fresh, new manner that would seem obvious to many people. He said that the best way to make money was releasing “extraordinary games”. Isn’t that the only way to money? Unfortunately, not many companies believe that that is the best strategy. The CEO continued:
“We strive to publish games which are as refined as Red Dead Redemption 2, and recent Rockstar releases in general. Rave reviews, excellent sales. What does that teach us? Well, it teaches us that we need to publish extraordinary games, and that’s exactly what we are planning. There’s only so much we can devote to gaming, and while the gaming community is growing, time cannot be stretched.”
The most important part is that the game has to be interesting and exciting for people to devote their precious time to play. “There is- well, maybe not a surfeit, but a fair deal of good games out there, and playing them consumes a lot of time. So it pays to be among the best- that’s how you get a nice fat slice of cake, business-wise.”
A crucial part is that he was not explaining ways of taking money from their users, which many games actually do, but instead focused on the creative part. Making a great game implies excellent sales, and we believe that his honest manner is remarkable in this industry. However, this comment was not part of his original presentation, which focused mainly on introducing ‘Cyberpunk 2077’.
An investor talked about ‘The Witcher 3’ and how the company released the bug patch 3 months later. On the other hand, their competitors, Rockstars’ ‘Red Dead Redemption’ was so great on its first release that it scored a 97/100. Then, this person asked if they planned to score, at least, 95 with ‘Cyberpunk 2077’.
Adam Kicinsky’s answered, “A fairly provocative, isn’t it? Without a doubt, quality is of paramount importance. We’re happy to see that excellent games continue to sell well.” It seems that this CEO is way more straightforward than others in the video game world. In regards to the well-received footage of ‘Cyberpunk 2077’, he said:
“At this early stage of the campaign, the most important question from our perspective was whether Cyberpunk – the new IP we’re introducing to the market – will take hold, whether it will be as well received as we would expect, at least in terms of attracting gamer interest. These viewership figures answer our initial question in the positive: gamers are indeed interested in Cyberpunk 2077 and are eagerly awaiting its release.”
Therefore, he is showing the investors that the many views in the trailer of the game are evidence of the company’s standing in the community and that the users are precious to him. Those are clear indications that the game has many chances to do well. Furthermore, it’s completely different from what companies like EA and Activision do with their shady practices and monetization efforts.
It also proves that they understand that keeping players and their investors happy is the way to operate to make decent money without swindling either side. Sometimes, the priorities of the users and the investors are opposites, and this company has learned to walk perfectly between them to satisfy them both.
Problems with ‘The Witcher’ creator
Most people found out about this saga thanks to the games released by CD Projekt Red, ‘The Witcher’ 1 and 2, but the third game is one of the best out there. It’s also the reason why people are talking about ‘Cyberpunk 2077’. However, ‘The Witcher’ games are loosely based on the eight books written by Andrzej Sapkowski.
Despite the success of the video games, it seems that the author has come to regret letting the company make games out of his books. He has also made negative comments regarding the narrative of video games compared to that of a novel. “How much substance can there be in the lines of text when the hero walks through the woods and talks to a squirrel?"
“Where’s the literature in that? Where’s the room for depth or sophisticated language in which games could elevate culture? There’s none.”
Furthermore, he also believes that his books were the reason for the success of the game. He understands that the video games probably upped sales of the novels too, but it’s a balance. “I think the result would be about equal, yes. If anything, more people have played the games because they read the books. That’s my count, but I’m not sure. I never did any studies.”
You might ask why this author is so angry. Well, CD Projekt Red originally bought the rights to the story in two installments which add up to $9,500. The company allegedly offered him a percentage of their profits, but Sapkowski refused, asking for all his money right away. It was a decision that he regretted because the games have sold over 20 million copies.
One of the reasons for his weird decision is that he never believed that the company would amount to anything. Unfortunately, if you agree to something, you must comply. However, now the author is demanding $16 million from the company, stating that the first contract was only about the first couple of games.
“Therefore, distribution of all other games, including their expansions, add-ons, etc. is simply speaking, unlawful.”
CD Projekt’s response is only natural: “The notice indicates that Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski expects payment of additional royalties beyond what had been contractually agreed upon between himself and the company. In the Company’s opinion, the demands expressed in the notice are groundless with regard to their merit as well as the stipulated amount.”
“The Company had legitimately and legally acquired copyright to Mr. Andrzej Sapkowski’s work.”
They also added that they hope to resolve this issue between both parties but will ensure that their original contract is enforced. Therefore, the game publisher is not rolling over, and they will fight because they fulfilled the agreement in the first place, and it’s not their fault that the author is now unhappy.
CD Projekt knows that Andrzej Sapkowski does not like the video games, and despite his awful comments, they have been entirely respectful to the author, emphasizing the books’ importance to the story of their products. Even author Dmitry Glukhovsky, who wrote the ‘Metro’ novels which have inspired games as well, talked about Sapkowsky’s negative comments.
He believes that Sapkowsky is wrong and that ‘The Witcher’ series would never have the international fame it boasts if not for the games. “And it’s not just about the games, but the gaming press and the buzz it creates, and just the feeling of something great and massive and impressive coming out. This got people hooked.” Additionally, he said that his own books benefitted from the games.
The point is that Sapkowsky made a mistake not asking for a percentage of the videos games years ago, and he became bitter after their incredible success. Unfortunately, when it comes to business, you cannot change a contract at whim, especially if CD Projekt Red was completely forthcoming with their intentions.
Do you think the author could win a lawsuit if it comes to that? Do you believe that CEO Adam Kicinski understands gamers better than most? If you liked this article, share it with your friends who love ‘The Withers’ series. See you next time!