With the recent surge in popularity of The Witcher series, thanks to the Netflix adaptation which made it more widely available, the series gained many new fans. Most of them decide to continue the experience by playing an equally popular game series also named The Witcher. Since the games change a pretty big part of the original story the fans are often left wondering are the games actually canon.
Despite actually fitting into the book series without disrupting the main storyline too much, the games are in fact not cannon.
This issue deals with the ever more popular technical of telling stories by depicting it throughout many different media forms (think Marvel and DC extended universe). If you would like an explanation as to why this seemingly very popular strategy wasn’t applied to The Witcher series make sure to read this article to the end and you’ll find out what the author himself had to say about the same question.
The Witcher game series
The Witcher game series involves three main games, conveniently named The Witcher, The Witcher 2, and The Witcher 3. Besides the main games, the franchise is also enriched by the sequels to each of these games.
The games are overall very well received, the best one being The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt having the most commercial success. The entire series is extremely successful gathering a bit of the following on its own.
The graphics are decent throughout the entire series with the exception of the first game, but that is more an issue of graphics not aging well, after all, it was released in 2007.
Smooth playtime and challenging gameplay provide an immersive experience anyone should give in to if the chance to play arises.
The story is surely the best part of the games. It is fast-paced throughout the entire series, effectively keeping the player on the edge. The fens appreciation comes from the fact that the games seem to get better with each release and the things the fans do not like actually get fixed.
Are the Witcher games canon?
For a very long time, The Witcher games were the most popular part of the franchise. Because of its commercial success, the games drew in many new fans.
The games serve as a sort of sequel to the books. While the books end with Geralt dying, the games take advantage of the ambiguous ending of the book series.
The books don’t explicitly say that Geralt died after being stabbed by the boy during the riots; hence the games set it up as Geralt waking up after being injured at the beginning of the game. Although the stories in the games tie in with the books they are actually not considered canon.
This sounds like a pretty simple question, but the answer and the reasoning behind it is way more complicated.
Story-wise the games fit with the books. Geralt being alive is explained later in the game in a way that does not disrupt the books. It also largely takes place during a time period that is not explained in the books which is why there are no disruptions.
The authors also wanted to stay as true to the book as possible which is why a good way to describe the situation is that the games are not canon to the books, but the books are canon to the game since the games rely on the lore provided in the books.
Why aren’t the Witcher games canon?
The original creator of the book series that was adapted into The Witcher games is Andrzej Sapkowski. However, he did not participate in the creation of the games.
Sapkowski, when asked about this, said that he wouldn’t work on the production of the games because that is not what he does and because he doubted his usefulness in this very different form of media. He also added that he wasn’t even offered participation; but that the studio simply wanted him as a consultant what he was more than happy to do.
The author himself spoke about the games on a number of occasions. He said that he did not play the games but was familiar with the games overall. The author also stated that the concept of art he was presented by the game developers in the early stages of its creation made quite an impression on him.
In addition to this, the author also stated he was aware of the big plot twists and diversions of the games from the book series beforehand, as the developers did approach him about it and asked if he had a problem with it.
Despite this seemingly friendly approach to the game series author expressed his opinion that believes that different forms of media could not converge, due to their fundamental difference in nature and the way it adds to the story, which is why the games could not be the sequel to the book series.
However, he did praise the developers saying that creating a piece of media that diverges from its source material is much more interesting than simply interpreting the story from the series into a different form of media.
Which Witcher ending is canon?
Ultimately, which ending is canon depends on which one you prefer. If you just so happen to be captivated by the games and consider them the continuation of the story no one can really stop you from believing that.
But which ending is considered canon? Obviously, the game changes the way the book series ends, so you can’t have both endings, since they are fundamentally different.
The book series ends with Geralt ending up in Rivia, while there are riots. The reasoning behind the riots was that humans were trying to kill all nonhuman inhabitants o Rivia.
Geralt was in a pub with his dwarf friends while the riots were in full force. At some point, when he exited the pub, Geralt was confronted by a peasant. He hesitated to fight with him, which resulted in Geralt dying after being impaled by a pitchfork.
The ending is ambiguous on purpose and there is an ongoing debate among the fans regarding what actually happened. Although it is never confirmed what has happened, the generally accepted interpretation is that Geralt died and Yennefer dies with him after unsuccessfully trying to heal him.
After the both of them are gone Ciri transports them to a sort of afterlife, which explains why she couldn’t stay with them.
This is where the games pick up. The game starts by explaining that Geralt is not in fact dead. The first scene is Geralt waking up in the forest outside Kaer Morhen, effectively disregarding the ending presented by the books.
When the game series comes in the question the story regarding the way the series ends. Depending on how you play the game and how the important factors play out you will see one of the thirty-six possible endings.
There are endings that tell us about the fate of different characters in the series. The other category of endings deals with the questions of who ends up ruling in the north and Skellige Isles.
Besides these, there are three possible endings to the actual storyline of the games.
The first ending shows us Geralt after the events on Undvik when he decides to go Emhyr var Emreis to inform of his daughter sacrificing herself to prevent the White Frost from destroying the land.
He later goes to the former garrison outpost in White Orchard to retrieve a specifically made sword, which he later gives to Ciri.
The second ending shows us Geralt reuniting with Ciri. After hanging out for a while, she explains to Geralt that she realized she would only be able to make a change in the world once she claims the Nilfguard throne. The scene ends with a tearful goodbye and a promise to meet again.
The last ending also dubbed the bad ending shows us Geralt trying to recover Ciri’s witcher medallion from the Weavess. The last scene closes with the sight of Geralt being swarmed by monsters, leaving his fate unknown.
According to the author of the book series, the games portray events that do not take place during the books’ story. In his own words, to claim that you know what happened to Geralt after the book’s end is unfair and simply not true, because the games and the book series are separated properties despite being based in the same lore.