The Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise is perhaps the most surprising success story in video games over recent years. The indie horror series, spearheaded by sole developer Scott Cawthon, came out of nowhere and immediately garnered a huge amount of notoriety within the gaming scene for its unsettling art style and jumpscare-laden gameplay. Unfortunately, the series’ fans have also managed to become notorious in their own right – but this is something that Cawthon himself has now addressed.
Speaking on the Steam page for Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location, Cawthon opened up about the criticism aimed at the Five Nights at Freddy’s fanbase in general. The developer stated that he feels that the fandom’s reputation as a “toxic fanbase” is an unfair generalization. Instead, Cawthon pointed towards how a series with such a large number of players could foster a wide number of personalities within it – some good and some bad.
Cawthon stated that “every fanbase has a huge variety of ages, a huge variety of opinions, and a huge variety of maturities,” and that this is nothing special about Five Nights at Freddy’s alone. “That’s not a fault of the fanbase, it’s a fault of people, and we’re all guilty,” the developer continued. “There will always be people who irritate you, inside and outside of any fanbase.”
It does seem as though Cawthon has seen some of the darker side of the Five Nights at Freddy’s fanbase directly, though. “We have all seen the bad fanart, the bad fan fiction, and the rest of the dark underbelly of the FNaF fandom that we wish we could forget before we close our eyes at night,” said the developer. However, Cawthon then pleaded for others to not “make the mistake of coming down on the fanbase as a whole,” citing the positive aspects of the fandom overall, with gamers showing creativity through the release of game mods based on Five Nights at Freddy’s.
Cawthon certainly has a point when it comes to the fanbase having both its positive and negative sides, bringing attention to the money raised by charity by certain members of the Five Nights at Freddy’s community. However, talking about the good deeds done and the issues within the franchise’s fans are not mutually exclusive, and it’s perhaps not surprising to see some outside of the fanbase feeling uneasy based on the actions of some parts of the group – particularly when it comes to aggression towards any criticism aimed at Five Nights at Freddy’s in general.
It’s not the first time that Five Nights at Freddy’s has been the subject of controversy, with Cawthon facing personal criticism over the speed at which he was able to release games, and then again with the lackluster release of spin-off Five Nights at Freddy’s World. However, it’s perhaps to be expected from a game series that has received such a strong, cult following since its launch. Nonetheless, the extreme side of any fanbase is likely to cause some to be put off.