The creator of the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, Scott Cawthon, says he is retiring from public game development. In a statement, Cawthon said that he will continue to make games as a hobby and for his children, and that he’s handing off the Five Nights at Freddy’s property to another developer.
“I’ve had a blessed, fulfilling, and rich career,” Cawthon said on his website. “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.
“But here on the seventh anniversary of the first game’s trailer, as I realize that I was in my mid-30s when I created the series and now I’m approaching my mid-40s, I realize that I miss a lot of things that I got to focus on before FNAF became such a success. I miss making games for my kids, I miss doing it just for fun, and I missing making rpgs even though I stink at it. All of this is to say that I am retiring. I have been shown tremendous love and support over this last week, a lot of which has come from the LGBTQ community. The kindness shown to me has been surreal.”
Cawthon’s inclusion of the LGBTQ community in his statement is a reference to recent controversy over the game maker’s political donations to Republican politicians, including Sen. Mitch McConnell, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, and former President Donald Trump. Those donations, totaling more than $42,000 and made almost exclusively to Republican lawmakers and politicians, were publicized on Reddit and Twitter last week, leading to criticism of Cawthon’s politics and how his donations directly impacted his own player base.
On Saturday, Cawthon responded to blowback over the donations in a Reddit thread, saying, in part:
I’ve debated greatly how best to address this, including not addressing it at all, but with so many people from the LGBT community in the fanbase that I love, that’s not an option. I’d like to think that the last seven years would have given me the benefit of the doubt in regards to how I try to treat people, but there I was, trending on twitter for being a homophobe, getting doxed, with people threatening to come to my house. My wife is six weeks pregnant and she spent last night in fear because of what was being said online. She has already been struggling with her pregnancy so seeing her so afraid really scared me. All this because I exercised my right, and my duty, as an American citizen, to vote for and support the candidates who I felt could best run the country, for everyone, and that’s something that I won’t apologize for.
For those who took the time to look, you saw that the candidates I supported included men, women, white people, black people, republicans, and democrats. I supported Kimberly Klacik in Baltimore because I believed that she really cared for the African American community there and wanted to pull them out of poverty. I believed she could have really make a difference in a time when so many black communities were struggling. She lost, unfortunately. I supported Tulsi Gabbard, a democrat, even though I disagreed with her on several issues, because I felt she would have been a good and fair president. And yes, I supported President Trump, because I felt he was the best man to fuel a strong economy and stand up to America’s enemies abroad, of which there are many. Even if there were candidates who had better things to say to the LGBT community directly, and bigger promises to make, I believed that their stances on other issues would have ended up doing much greater harm to those communities than good. All of this explanation, I fear, is wasted, as people don’t want to discuss with one another anymore; they want endless apologies and submission. People who are expecting those from me will get neither.
In the same statement, Cawthon hinted as his plans to retire amid the attention and controversy.
“I don’t do this for the money anymore; I do it because I enjoy it,” he wrote. “If people think I’m doing more harm than good now, then maybe it’s better that I get cancelled and retire. I would accept that. I’ve had a fulfilling career. Besides, most things that people can take from you are things that never had much value to begin with.
“I have always loved, and will continue to love, this community and this fanbase, even if someday it doesn’t include me anymore.”
As for the future of Five Nights at Freddy’s — which includes an in-development movie adaptation and another sequel, Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach — Cawthon said Thursday he plans to hand the reins to someone else.
“Is this the end of FNAF? No.” he said. “This just means that someone else will eventually be running the show; someone of my choosing, and someone that I trust. We will have to wait and see how it all plays out, but an announcement will be made at some point.”