Popular game developer steps down from franchise amid donation scandal

Ella Underwood, Associate Editor

Indie game developer Scott Cawthon found himself in a scandal in June of 2021 when fans discovered where his political donations went. Cawthon is the well respected creator of the popular indie horror game, Five Nights at Freddy’s. Currently with three novels, 12 books of short stories, 13 games, and a whole line of merchandise, Cawthon has been extremely successful. Making a game with deep lore, loveable characters, and a diverse fanbase has made Cawthon a prominent figure in the gaming community.

 Recently, a twitter user discovered where all of Cawthon’s political donations went. The screenshots were eaten up by the fanbase immediately. The majority of his donations were sent to Republicans or people who were considered “anti-human rights”. This includes Donald Trump who has been a controversial figure in the past few years. The Five Nights at Freddy’s subreddit  blew up over the newfound information. Many emotions were bouncing around the fanbase.

During this time, the fanbase felt betrayed and confused about the whole issue. Twitter user beesmygod_  posted screenshots of the donations made by Cawthon. Another Twitter user IAmGryphoneer stated, “turns out scott cawthon… maxed out his political donations to republican candidates and PACs in 2020.” Under Cawthon’s last Twitter post about the possible production of the movie, more twitter users commented on how they felt about the news. One user stated, “Scott, I ripped all of your posters off my walls and burnt all of my FNAF plushies.” Another saying, “my guy do you know what half of your fandom is,” in response to the donations made to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. Some even wished ill to his family, including his wife who was pregnant at the time. 

In response to the uproar, Scott Cawthon explained himself in a reddit post. First, he summed up his choices in politics, stating, “…to vote for and support the candidates who I felt could best run the country, for everyone, and that’s something I won’t apologize for.” In the end, he stated, “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.” Fans replied in many different ways. Some in support of Cawthon and starting the twitter hashtag #istandbyscott to show their love for the franchise and him as the developer. Some express their disappointment in Cawthon’s choices but still respect him for all the things he has accomplished.

Not too long after Cawthon’s response, he stepped down from his role as game developer and detached himself from the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise. “But here on the 7th anniversary of the first game’s trailer, as I realize I was in my mid 30s…I realize that I miss a lot of things that I got to focus on before FNAF became such a success,” he says. Cawthon goes on to say that he wants to focus on his kids now especially with a pregnant wife. “Is this the end of FNAF? No. This just means someone else will eventually be running the show…” Cawthon says. He ends his heartfelt letter with “See you on the flipside.” In response to the news of his retirement, fans create another twitter hashtag #thankyouscott. 

So you may be wondering, what now? Well, as the fanbase who jumped on every new piece of lore or teaser, they wonder the same thing. Cawthon has promised the release of the Five Night at Freddy’s movie which he collaborated with Blumhouse Productions on. He also promised the release of the new game “Security Breach” which introduces tons of new lore and new faces as well. Cawthon stated that “…someone of my choosing, and someone that I trust” will take his place and continue FNAF.

Not only was the fanbase worried about the game releases and the movie, they also worried about some famous youtubers such as MatPat and Markiplier, who built their channels from FNAF. MatPat being the theorist on what this franchise could mean and Mark for playing and beating all the games. 

While Mark is yet to respond on the matter, MatPat has released a video explaining his personal thoughts. “The reason it took me so long to respond is because I’ve had to sort it all out in my own head,” MatPat says. “Heck, by the time that you bothered to finish reading Scott’s response to all this drama, he had already posted his retirement,” he adds when explaining how fast everything has happened. MatPat then explains the importance of detaching a name from a franchise and continuing doing what you love. 

Even when all is said and done, Cawthon still has donated quite a large sum of money to charities in his time as game developer. For example, in youtuber Dawko’s charity live stream for the Trevor Project, Cawthon donated $50,000. In another one of Dawko’s live streams for a children’s hospital, he donated $250,000.