French studio Widescreen Games says it has stopped work on the console version of The Witcher after months of not being paid, leading to serious doubts about the game’s future, but CD Projekt denies the claim.

Word slipped out yesterday that The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf, the console version of the hit 2007 RPG, had been canceled for reasons unknown. When contacted, CD Projekt declined to address the matter, saying only, “We will comment on this in [an] official release soon.” But co-developer Widescreen Games apparently didn’t want to wait that long, issuing a statement of its own claiming that work on the project “has been suspended pending the resolution of financial issues between the different project partners.”

“Basically, after a few months of not being paid, we stopped,” Widescreen Games CEO Olivier Masclef told GamesIndustry. “We’ve not been paid for a few months and we had a very nasty broken payment. We had no choice but to put the product on hold. We’ve not been able to find a solution.”

He added that the studio had been left out of discussions between CD Projekt and publisher Atari and had not been informed of such things as new milestone dates and added features Atari was expecting. Work on the project ground to a halt three weeks ago and while the announcement of the suspension expressed hope that the dispute could be resolved, Masclef sounded less optimistic in follow-up comments.

“It’s unfortunate because we have very nice technology, we’re replicated all the features of The Witcher,” he said. “Atari has validated the product and seen that our tech is working. And we’ve heard that the distributors have been committing a very high volume for the title, and it was extremely promising. It’s a very silly situation. I can’t disclose the budget, but it would be a profitable title if it hit the shelves. But at this stage it will not.”

UPDATE: While he said it was “sad” that CD Projekt and Widescreen Games had to communicate through the media rather than through “normal business” channels, CD Projekt CEO Michal Kicinski has issued his own statement in response to Widescreen’s allegations, claiming that all payments were made to Widescreen based on the “milestone plan.” Payments were late because of quality concerns and production delays at Widescreen, he said, which eventually soured the relationship between the two companies.

“We are evaluating all possible options to continue the production. Making this decision was extremely difficult and sad as we know that many people are waiting for this project,” Kicinski said. “We do our best to find a way out of this situation. But final decision must guarantee high quality of the product, otherwise we won’t continue the production no matter what consequences it will bring. We are committed to the highest quality of all our games, and this is unnegotiable for us.”

Sources: VE3D, GameFocus

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