Over the past 7 years, Scott Cawthon built his horror game empire with a series of nine games of Five Nights at Freddy’s. The iconic scary game is based off the premise of the player defending themselves and Freddy’s restaurant from the animatronic mascots, which come violently alive at night. For an indie horror game to break into popular culture the way Five Nights at Freddy’s did indicates great success and longevity in a career, but that will no longer be the case for Cawthon.
I’ve had a blessed, fulfilling, and rich career. I’ve been shown great kindness and I’ve tried to show great kindness in return. I’ve tried to make some good games (let the debate ensue), and I’ve witnessed the creation of possibly the most creative and talented fanbase on the planet.
On the seventh anniversary of the trailer for the original Five Nights at Freddy’s game, Cawthon released a resignation announcement on his website, talking about what the series has meant to him and how he and the fanbase have both grown over the years. He states that his reasons for stepping down are personal and that he wants to expand his knowledge and make other types of games, for fun and for his children. However, this resignation is coming off the back of recent controversies surrounding the developer.
Recently, it was widely discovered from site OpenSecrets that Scott Cawthon had been repeatedly donating to right-wing politicians, including former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. This discovery led to intense backlash about his politics and lack of support for the LGBT+ community, who make up a not-insignificant portion of the game’s fanbase. On Reddit, Cawthon attempted to defend himself by making statements about his stance as a Republican and pro-life supporter, saying that those positions did not prevent him from supporting the LGBT+ community and ultimately saying it was his right as an American to support whatever politics he chooses. This only increased the backlash, and while he technically did not say anything about that in his retirement statement, it is easy to believe the two occurrences are more than just a coincidence.
The announcement of his retirement did not do anything to alleviate the discussion around him and focus on him, and he continues to be controversial, with many fans thanking him and many expressing their disappointment. Cawthon has made no statements since this announcement. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach, the newest addition to the horror series, was scheduled for release later in 2021, and no statements have been made regarding any updates on that. In his letter, Cawthon made sure his fans knew that this would not be the end of the Five Nights series and that he will be appointing someone to take his place at the helm of the ship. Whether or not this controversy will be negative for the games is yet to be determined. For now, the only thing that can be done is to wait and see.