Scott Cawthon of Five Nights At Freddy’s fame recently came under fire for his political leanings. Now, he’s announced his retirement.
“I’m a republican. I’m a Christian. I’m pro-life. I believe in God. I also believe in equality, and in science, and in common sense. Despite what some may say, all of those things can go together. That’s not an apology or promise to change, it’s the way it’s always been.” This is a quote from a since-locked Reddit post that was made five days ago by Scott Cawthon, the creator of the incredibly successful Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) franchise.
The post, entitled “My response and Maybe Last Post”, was Cawthon’s response to fan backlash after his donations to several questionable US politicians were uncovered. A large donation of $5k was made to Republican senator Mitch McConnell, as well as several other $2k donations made to Donald Trump and Ben Carson, among others.
The Five Nights at Freddy’s fanbase is an incredibly diverse online community, with representation of all walks of life finding a safe space within its bounds – and so it isn’t too much of a stretch to understand why fans were frustrated by this. Some of these political representatives have often found themselves in direct opposition to certain progressive policies that could improve the quality of life for marginalised communities, and finding out that Cawthon was supporting them all along could very easily feel like a betrayal.
“If I get cancelled, then I get cancelled. I don’t do this for the money anymore; I do it because I enjoy it. If people think I’m doing more harm than good now, then maybe it’s better that I get cancelled and retire.”
In the Reddit response post, Cawthon didn’t back down. Rather, he made reassurances that he was standing his ground with his political ideology, regardless of whether or not he had support, claiming that he’ll back off if people think he’s doing more harm than good. Five days later, his retirement was announced.
Yesterday, he posted a large block of text on his website, leaning on his love for the LGBTQI people within the Five Nights at Freddy’s fanbase, and reminiscing about the incredibly positive impact he has had on the younger generation of fans who send him mail. The post reads a little like a self-congratulatory victory lap, and finishes with the announcement that he is hanging up his hat.
Now, his love for his queer constituents may well be real, but there are some within the fanbase that view this post to be purely performative, with the goal of formulating a persona that seems more considerate than he actually is. It’s something that he does seem to harken on about in both his Reddit response post and the follow-up resignation post, and some fans aren’t buying it.
The fanbase is currently conflicted over whether to praise him for his work or condemn the awkward hypocrisy required to say he supports the community, while also supporting politicians that act against the community’s best interests. But Cawthon has made quite clear that he doesn’t really care. He’s done with the franchise and is looking to make a clean exit.
“Is this the end for FNAF? No. This just means that someone else will eventually be running the show…”
With a feature film on the way alongside a PS5-exclusive title, the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise is at no risk of toppling anytime soon. Nonetheless, it may be a wise move for Cawthon to take a step back. Let’s cross our fingers that whoever takes over his role is able to represent the community better than Cawthon did.
And knows a thing or two about game design.