The FNAF series was created in 2014 by developer Scott Cawthon as a sort of response to complaints levied against his previous game, Chipper & Sons Lumber Co.
People who played and reviewed the game often complained about how it included frightening characters that were supposed to be friendly, with critics like Jim Sterling proclaiming that the characters had a ‘creepy, animatronic vibe to them.’
Cawthon took on these complaints and implemented them into an intentionally scary game using these same concepts, putting animatronic characters front and center.
The game development process of FNAF was a solo project by Cawthon, as while he did have experience in creating video games over the years, he did not have a team to help with the project at the time.
Chipper & Sons Lumber Co.
Cawthon created Chipper & Sons in 2013 as a fun little game wherein a friendly beaver named Tyke would help other animals in the forest with tasks as well as help his dad, Chipper. He eventually removed the game from Steam’s Greenlight page, mainly due to complaints about the creepy aesthetic and movement of the characters.
Rather than try to make another friendly game with less of the scary elements from before, Cawthon decided to lean into the horror element and thus began work on creating the first Five Nights at Freddy’s game.
Five Nights at Freddy’s has become one of the most well-known names in gaming as a whole, let alone the horror genre. It is a game series that has stood the test of time in a video game climate that burns through small indie start-ups like coal in a steam engine.
The constant influx of both new IPs and rehashed remasters flooding the market, making most contemporary games that don’t have billion-dollar backings to them vanish into obscurity, meant a significant hurdle for the FNAF franchise to overcome. Despite these obstacles, Five Nights at Freddy’s dominated even after starting as a humble Kickstarter.
Cawthon, up to this point, had already made a few games, his first being a game called Doofas in 1994; he would continue making video games through the 2000s, joining Hope Animation, a Christian-based animation studio wherein he would create Christian animated videos for children.
This was consistent with his other games, which also included Christian values, such as A Pilgrim’s Progress and The Desolate Hope.
These games, however, were not financially prosperous, and leading on from the complaints against Chipper & Sons, Cawthon looked into a new IP, one that could potentially play to his strengths as a video game developer.
All of Scott Cawthon’s Gaming Credits Pre-FNAF:
- Doofas – 1994
- Floppy Disk – 1995
- RPG Max – 2002
- The Fifth Paradox – 2003
- RPG Max 2 – 2002
- Lost Island – 2002
- Elemage – 2002
- Mega Knight – 2002
- Dank Knight -2002
- Dungeon – 2002
- Dinostria – 2002
- Phantom Core: The Moon Mission – 2003
- War – 2003
- Gunball – 2003
- Stellar Gun – 2003
- Ships of Chaos – 2003
- Legacy of Flan – 2003
- Legacy of Flan 2: Flans Online – 2003
- Legacy of Flan 3: Storm of Hades – 2003
- Flannville – 2004
- Junkyard Apocalypse – 2004
- Moon Minions – 2004
- Flannville 2 – 2005
- Metroid: Ripped Worlds – 2005
- Legend of the White Whale – 2005
- Chup’s Quest – 2005
- The Misadventures of Sigfried the Dark Elf on a Tuesday Night – 2006
- Bogart – 2006
- Bogart 2: Return of Bogart – 2006
- Light from Above – 2006
- Weird Colony – 2007
- M.O.O.N. – 2007
- Legacy of the Flan 4: Flan Rising – 2007
- The Desolate Room – 2007
- Iffermoon – 2008
- The Powermon Adventure! – 2011
- Doomsday Picnic RPG – 2011
- Slumberfish! – 2011
- Slumberfish!: Catching Z’s – 2011
- The Pilgrim’s Progress: The Video Game – 2011
- The Desolate Hope – 2012
- Aquatic Critters Slots – 2013
- Vegas Fantasy Jackpot – 2013
- Vegas Wild Slots – 2013
- Golden Galaxy – 2013
- Mafia! Slot Machine – 2013
- Platinum Slots Collection – 2013
- Chipper & Sons Lumber Co. – 2013
- Bad Waiter Tip Calculator – 2013
- Forever Quester – 2014
- Snap-A-Game: Classic RPG – 2014
- Jumbo Slots Collection – 2014
- Pimp My Dungeon – 2014
- There is No Pause Button! – 2014
- Slumberfish – 2014
- Fighter Mage Bard – 2014
- Use Holy Water! – 2014
- Rage Quit – 2014
- 20 Useless Apps – 2014
- Cropple – 2014
- Spooky Scan – 2014
- Vegas Fantasy Slots – 2014
- Pogoduck – 2014
- Scott’s Fantasy Slots – 2014
- VIP Woodland Casino – 2014
- Hawaiian Jackpots – 2014
- 8-Bit RPG Creator – 2014
- Bible Story Slots – 2014
- Magnum Slots Collection – 2014
- Gemsa – 2014
- Fart Hotel – 2014
- Chubby Hurdles – 2014
- Shell Shatter – 2014
- Dark Prisms -2014
- Sit ‘N’ Survive – 2014
Every FNAF Game In Chronological Order:
- Five Nights at Freddy’s – 2014
- Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 – 2014
- Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 – 2015
- Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 – 2015
- FNAF World – 2016
- Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location – 2016
- Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator – 2017
- Ultimate Custom Night – 2018
- Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted – 2019
- Five Nights at Freddy’s: Special Delivery – 2019
- Freddy in Space 2 – 2019
- Security Breach: Fury’s Rage – 2021
- Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach – 2021
- Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach: Ruin – 2023
- Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted 2 – 2023
For the first few entries into the series, Cawthon worked alone, using Clickteam Fusion 2.5 to create his games, a software used to make point-and-click games; this, in turn, was why scenes were pre-rendered.
He also used Autodesk 3DS Max as a tool for modeling any 3D graphics during development. Regarding audio for the game, Cawthon blended a mix of sound effects purchased online and created by himself.
Initially set up as a Kickstarter campaign, the work on FNAF 1 ran for six months before the Kickstarter was canceled in June 2014, with Cawthon ready with a trailer for what would go on to become one of the most recognizable titles in the horror gaming genre.
One could see the familiarity between the animatronic characters of FNAF and real-world establishments like Chuck E. Cheese, which many would agree are already somewhat unnerving.
He had been aided by his friends as well as his sons, who were working as beta testers for the early game, ironing out bugs.
From there, Cawthon would go on to develop sequel games and books, eventually leading to the movie coming out next month from Blumhouse Studios. With the sequel game, FNAF 2, was released only later that same year, in November 2014, after being announced as a 2015 release.
Perhaps this tenacity earned his community’s trust, as many beloved games had fallen into the sinkhole of a promised sequel with an ever-delayed release date.
When Life Gives You Lemons
Cawthon was able to take the sour taste of complaints against his family-friendly game and turn it into a lemonade that would shake the core of the horror video game world. For something that was seen initially as a simple point-and-click game, FNAF has been able to span multiple sequel games, a VR game, a mobile AR game, and even transcend mediums through books and film.
The gameplay is there to bring people in for scares and the method of drip-feeding lore to players, making them stay. The story of the creation of the FNAF franchise is a story of playing the cards one is dealt; if the character models are too creepy looking for a kids’ game, turn them into icons of the horror genre.