Developer Scott Cawthon has had probably one of the busier years of his life with his series of games known as Five Nights At Freddy's. Scott has released four of these games in the last year or so and has received so much publicity for them. Unless you have been living under a rock, that's buried at sea, on a different planet, you will have heard of these games. So, why have these games been so successful? Let's start from the beginning...
Scott releases an app called Chipper & Sons Lumber Co., a game about chopping down trees for the main character Tyke’s father so you can get lumber in exchange. Then you can build a variety of things such as Lumberbots and Totem Poles and more. You also do favors for NPC's which result in mini games. After multiple reviewers criticized the game characters and their interactions with each other for looking like bad animatronics, Scott had an idea and on August 8, 2014, Five Nights at Freddy’s was released.
You play as Mike Schmidt a security guard taking the night watch of Freddy Fazbears Pizza. From your small office, you must watch the security cameras carefully because at night the animatronics in the restaurant come alive in a spooky, murderous fashion. Basically, you are just waiting to die during the night until you reach 6 am and the shift is over. The game gets very tense as you sit there staring through the hazy camera keeping your eyes peeled for any sign of a wondering animatronic and failure to do so means you die from a jump scare that changes your voice into that of a twelve-year-old child and sends the laptop you are playing on 5 feet into the air... That's just what I heard, not like that's happened to me or anything... At the start of every night "Phone Guy" voiced by Scott Cawthon leaves you a voice recording to listen to which inform you about certain animatronics or just to creep you out even more, he mentions "The Bite of 87" which is also referenced to in a newspaper article on a wall in one of the rooms that led to a previous Fazbear Pizza restaurant to close down after a faulty animatronic had bitten a child in the frontal lobe of the brain. So far the story just seems almost random right?
Wrong. For the purpose of your time and mine, I won't go in detail about how the gameplay changes and evolves for each game. That's not really what this article is about, the gameplay isn't the main reason the series is so effective. Now, where are we? FNAF 2 releases November 10th 2014. FNAF 3 releases March 2nd, 2015. FNAF 4 gets a release date of October 31st, 2015 and then actually releases July 23rd, 2015 out of nowhere. Cawthon worked on the series for just over an entire year, capitalized on the success of the first and ground out a series that made us obsessed to get the next clue in the mystery and pay for it every time we failed on each night in the game. Each installment added some new animatronics and new things do in order to not die, which made the already tense, heart-racing gameplay even better. Each game also adds mini games that you play when you complete each night which give us some info about the games lore. This is what drives the game, these tiny breadcrumbs Scott Cawthon leaves you, this is why the series is so successful. Each game expands on the overall story in very interesting ways by mixing up the timeline and by showing the player different perspectives. They give the player a small pieces of the puzzle that is Five Nights at Freddy's.
YouTube has been the main contributor to the franchise's popularity, some of the biggest names on the gaming side of the site such as YouTuber Markiplier, PewDiePie and The Game Theorists, who have a combined number of fifty-six million subscribers and over twelve billion views on their channels have released a large number of videos related to the games. With the first two YouTubers named making playthrough videos and the last is a person dedicated to unearthing the secrets behind the franchise by analyzing every aspect hidden in plain sight in order piece together the timeline of each game and what part they play in FNAF lore. As you can tell the series has accumulated quite a large community of people coming together to speculate what the real story is in FNAF.
The series is so well known today that Warner Brothers has purchased the rights to it and has appointed director Gil Kenan (Moster House, City of Ember, (Poltergeist 2015)) to adapt the franchise into a feature length film which is set for release in 2017 and has since tweeted and has since tweeted:
“I'm a big FNAF fan myself! The depth of the game storyline is amazing... Scott is one hell of a world builder!".
If you are a fan or even just curious I would highly recommend watching The Game Theorists videos about the story behind FNAF, because the puzzle has since been solved and it does not disappoint. Scott Cawthon is an amazing world builder and deserves the praise that has been given to him.