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Mateusz Perowicz  4 października 2021

Geralt leaves, but the Witcher goes on. Will Poland manage to forge the popularity of the Sapkowski’s universe into a national success?

Mateusz Perowicz  4 października 2021
przeczytanie zajmie 6 min

How long can one kill those floaters? Someone might ask the lovers of Geralt of Rivia. The character created by Andrzej Sapkowski has not yet become a dead bore to its global fans. A great game has been created, a good series and the novel itself is experiencing its renaissance, but that is still not enough. People all over the world dream of communing with the Witcher and exploiting him in various fields.

The game turned out extremely successful. Our developer, CD Projekt, was able to use the potential of the Witcher world perfectly. They created an outstanding and sought-after position all over the world. Tomasz Bagiński was also able to use such a gem. Over the years he has worked to bring the adventures of the White Wolf to the big screen. Finally, a series was created in collaboration with the world’s largest streaming platform. One can say without a doubt that „everything about Witcher is pure gold„. The brand recorded one success after another, and each subsequent adaptation broke the bank. The Witcher increasingly penetrated reality. He was even present at the Tokyo Olympics. The shooting gold medalist, Vitalina Batsarashkina, performed with a Witcher medallion around her neck. Belarusian gymnasts, on the other hand, performed their arrangement to the tune of the Witcher soundtrack. Although fans have already got Geralt in every form, the fashion for “Witcherism” is not fading away.

Devils and demons in the shopping mall

We will have to wait a while longer for the next Witcher game from CD Projekt, as well as for the second season of the series. However, the craving fans did get an appetizer. On July 21, a mobile game – The Witcher: Monster Slayer – was released. Of course, it was a test for the viability of the Witcher brand. The competition never sleeps. There are lots of other games, books and series with a similar vibe. Does anyone still remember the Witcher? As it turns out, they do.

Monster Slayer is a game similar to Pokemon GO, which has also seen enormous success. After launching Monster, our immediate surroundings turn into a world known for our favorite franchise. Where the garbage can used to be, now there is a Noonwraith, which we can attack. As in the case of Pokemon, now a lot of people with the desire to experience Witcher adventures, travel their immediate vicinity to complete missions, collect equipment and fight battles. Comparisons of Polish production to the Nintendo hit appear constantly. Monster Slayer has not gained such popularity, but it beats the Japanese competition in several respects.

The game by the Spokko studio is much more socially inclusive. In the case of Pokemon GO, small-town residents could only watch YouTube videos of how fun it is to play in better locations. Monster Slayer is better in this respect, though not perfect. Along with another release using augmented reality, the discussion returns whether this mode of spending one’s free time is deepening addiction to smartphones, or pulling outside those who prefer to spend their free time in front of a screen.

During a week, the game was downloaded over a million times and earned over PLN 2 million. It is played by the Germans, the British and the Americans. The interest in the first days following the premiere was huge. The specific nature of this type of game, however, is that they are impossible to complete. There is no primary goal where the fun ends.

Geralt must go!

The Witcher: Blood Origin and The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf are the titles of two new Netflix productions from the Witcher world. They have one very important thing in common – the protagonist of these stories will not be Geralt of Rivia.

No wonder Geralt captured the imagination of the masses. He is an incredibly expressive figure and so non-obvious that he still draws our attention. His behavior is unpredictable, and his motives are so specific that he differs from the characters around him. The White Wolf will find his way both at a drinking spree at the inn and at a banquet at the palace. He can find his way among the common folk and does not stand out in any way among the higher circles. But he will always be different. Among the mob, he stands out with superior intelligence, and in the high society, he presents a completely different value system than the upper class, because he takes into account the problems and pains of the little ones. Geralt is a nobody; he belongs to nobody, nobody can fully find him relatable, so paradoxically everyone can get the impression that they have something in common with the Witcher.

Another advantage of his story is the multitude of threads along with perfectly built relationships between the characters. Andrzej Sapkowski not only managed to create a perfect fantasy world but also included in it one of the best unconventional love stories.

As a result, The Witcher series is not so much about a monster killer as a story about a broken family that tries to stay together, despite adversities. An ordinary, sword-swinging thug would have gotten boring a long time ago. However, Geralt is also a protector of the oppressed, a caring parent and a geopolitical tactician, which made the whole world like him. However, it’s high time to start moving on without him. The Witcher universe is currently facing its greatest challenge. If the brand is to develop further, it is necessary to become independent from Geralt to build new stories based on other plots and characters.

“I know very well that it’s not that people who watch our movie will automatically become invested in the series or reach for the books and the game. This is why we try to reach out to different viewers with our productions and we will probably do it with different characters,” says Lauren Hissrich, showrunner of the series. That is why, as Hissrich explains, one of the productions under development will be made in the anime convention. “The first season of The Witcher was watched by 80 million people around the world. We reached viewers in Poland, the United States, Brazil and Great Britain. Interestingly, the production turned out to be a hit even in Korea. So we decided to take this story – invented in Poland and released by an American company – to the Asian market. Anime gives us this opportunity. Look, the anime fan base is huge. Many of them have never heard of The Witcher in their life.”

CD Projekt goes in a similar direction. They want to conquer Asia with the manga The Witcher: Ronin, and at the same time, together with the Dark Horse studio, they publish comics that have recently been gaining in quality.

We already know that the upcoming, fourth Witcher video game created by CD Projekt will not feature Geralt, and even if it does, he won’t be the main character. It is absolutely the right decision. The Witcher world is so rich that one can create separate games and series about the lodge of sorceresses, elves and dwarves, or Skellige jarls.

A fashion for Poland that we are not capable of taking advantage of

This cooperation is also a guarantee that the Witcher universe will be constantly expanded for the benefit of our country. Many thanks for The Witcher have already appeared at the Polish Embassy in the USA. Polish creators and companies cooperate in the creation of series, animated movies and comics from the Witcher world.

Interestingly, the relationship with Poland is much more strongly emphasized by American Netflix than our native CD Projekt. From the very beginning, the Americans have been cooperating with Andrzej Sapkowski and promoting him as the creator of the entire universe. Several additional materials were also created, in which the cast of the series faces Polish aspects of life. Here they struggle with the correct Polish language, and here they try Polish flavors. This is another example to confirm a sad fact. Polish companies prefer to pretend to be Western corporations, wanting to avoid associations with their homeland, while marketing agencies of foreign corporations diligently use the fashion for Polishness, labeling themselves in white and red.

The Witcher only became a real national treasure when the Great West made it clear that we had nothing to be ashamed of. Now is the time to make efforts to make the whole world aware that The Witcher is a product made in Poland. We slept through the first wave of The Witcher’s popularity, but all is not lost yet. Nothing seems to indicate that the brand would lose its importance. It would be a pity to waste such an opportunity to promote our country. The Witcher creates a breach in the global pop culture jigsaw. It is one of the few, if not the only, such a popular character who does not belong to some of the world’s largest corporations. We have something that many other countries can envy us. Will we be able to use it?

Polish version available here.

Publication (excluding figures and illustrations) is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 InternationalAny use of the work is allowed, provided that the licensing information, about rights holders and about the contest "Public Diplomacy 2021" (below) is mentioned.

Public task financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland within the grant competition “Public Diplomacy 2021”. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the official positions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland.