Why Scott Cawthon Is Retiring From 'Five Nights at Freddy's'

Five Night's at Freddy's creator Scott Cawthon, 43, has announced his retirement from professional game development on his website. Although he attributes the decision to the fact that he is now in his mid-40s and wants to move on to other things, the timing comes in light of recent personal controversies.

Last week, the game developer and animator came under fire when Twitter users discovered that he had provided financial backing to a number of U.S. politicians. The donation records, which were listed on OpenSecrets.org, included the likes of former President Donald Trump, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, and Democratic representative Tulsi Gabbard.

All three of these politicians have been criticized for what some see as transphobic views, with Gabbard having pushed a bill that would ban transgender girls from competing in women's sports. As such, several fans began to express disappointment in Cawthon for donating to such politicians.

Cawthon initially remained silent on the backlash, until he eventually published a lengthy Reddit post entitled "My Response and maybe last post". There, he maintained that he loves his LGBTQIA2S+ fanbase and that he has always tried to treat everyone fairly, regardless of their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Cawthon wrote on Sunday: "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."

He pointed out that, while he does not necessarily agree with everything that Trump, McConnel or Gabbard say, he will not apologize for donating to their campaigns. The post continues: "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."

Since then, there was been radio silence from Cawthon, until he made the announcement on his website that he will be retiring from game development. Cawthon does not explicitly mention the social media backlash anywhere in his post, but it is hard to separate it from the news.

The post opens with Cawthon sharing a sketch, drawn by a young fan, that depicts one of the villainous animatronics from Five Nights at Freddy's (often abbreviated to FNAF). He moves on to say that he has boxes upon boxes of similar fanart and letters in his home and that he hopes to one day compile them into a giant collage.

After that light-hearted introduction, he then moves on to more serious matters. Writing that he has had a fulfilling career over the years, he states: "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-30's when I created the series and now I'm approaching my mid-40's, 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 miss making RPGs even though I stink at it. All of this is to say that I am retiring".

The only time he directly addresses the recent controversies is in a sentence nestled within the broader announcement that reads: "I have been shown tremendous love and support over the past week, a lot of which has come from the LGBTQ community. The kindness shown to me has been surreal."

Before signing off Cawthon reassures fans that this is not the end of the FNAF series and that he will instead be handing the reigns over to someone else of his own choosing. Prior to the controversies, the developer was working on a new entry in his long-running horror franchise, named Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach.

Scheduled for release later this year, there has been no news of its cancellation at the time of writing but the above announcement seems to indicate that it will now be finished by somebody else.

Newsweek has contacted Cawthon for comment, but at the time of publication had received no response.

A Villinaous Animatronic Peers Around a Corner
Screenshot taken from the trailer for "Five Nights at Freddy's Security Breach" Scott Cawthon