Scott Cawthon is the creator of Five Nights at Freddy’s a series of horror games with a big cult following behind them. His latest game was expected to be the sixth main entry in the series, but now Cawthon says he’s cancelled the project and turning to work on other things. Nobody believes him, of course.
And that’s because Cawthon has a history of elaborate jokes and straightforward trolling. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location, a spin-off game, was originally delayed last autumn because, in Cawthon’s words, “I wanted to post an announcement that this game might be postponed, and I’m not really sure when it would be released.” A short while later he announced the game he was thinking of delaying would not actually be delayed.
The lore surrounding FNaF and its fans is at this point more complex and convoluted then the games themselves. Here’s a timeline of everything related to the series that Cawthon has ever touched. Last April, seemingly as part of an April Fools’ joke, Cawthon had several of his sites start shitposting about one another in the HTML code. “You can’t tell us what to do anymore,” one message said, which was accompanied on another site by “Yes, I can. You will do everything that I tell you to do.” Collected together, these cryptic messages were interpreted by fans as Cawthon’s way of teasing FNaF 6.
And then, out of the blue, the designer decided to post on Steam that he was abandoning the project due to all of the stress,
“But after forcing myself to keep working on it day after day, I realized something- I just don’t want to work on this. With each game’s release, I think the expectations get higher and higher for the next, and rightfully so. Each game SHOULD be better than the last! But that pressure starts to mount, and I fear that I’ve been neglecting other things in my life for the sake of trying to keep up with those mounting expectations.
So, after giving this a lot of thought; I’ve decided that I’m going to stop working on it. I’m not going to reveal anything else about what the game was, and I’ve asked other people involved to never divulge anything either. It’s just not going to be talked about.”
He went on to speculate about perhaps making Foxy Fighters, a joke mini-game from FNaF, into a fully-fledged thing, or maybe doing something with VR. Whatever it was though it wouldn’t be FNaF 6. Fans greeted this declaration with scepticism, so much so that Cawthon felt obligated to stress his intentions in a subsequent update. “Yes, I need a break,” he said. “No, it’s not a troll. (Would I ever troll you guys?)”
That last part only egged fans on even more. As a result, fans have been sharing their disbelief across Reddit posts and the comments under Cawthon’s post, of which there are now over 1,000. “Stop fucking with my head Scott,” wrote one commenter. Others tried to perform Cawthoneutics to decipher the designer’s intent,
“3) No, it’s not a troll. (Would I ever troll you guys?)
That second part seems to confirm he’s being sarcastic, and joking about the whole thing. He’s trolled us multiple times in the past, that’s an absolute lie, and that seems to imply the rest of this line is also a lie.
4) Yes I want to make something more lighthearted just as a way of relaxing.
5) Yes, it would be free.
6) No, you don’t have to play it. ;)
This seems to imply that he’s already thought of the game he wants to work on. It also implies that it’ll be a troll game. The fact that it’s free, lighthearted, and that “you don’t have to play it” (for FNaF fans, we won’t need to play it to learn about the lore), with the winky face seems to really suggest we’ll be getting a troll game soon.”
While some fans seem exasperated with Cawthon, it’s clear this kind of trolling is becoming an essential part of what people enjoy about his games and the culture surrounding them. Lots of fans will go out of their way to hypothesise about upcoming games or movies by pouring over trailers and press releases with a fine-tooth comb, hoping to discern anything and everything about the subject of their obsession prior to its official release. If anything, Cawthon simply seems to enjoying playing off that obsession and using it to taunt and toy with the people who play his games.