In less than a year, Five Nights at Freddy’s has gone from being a cult favorite to one of the biggest new franchises of recent years. That’s about the best scenario you could hope for with an esoteric horror game created and developed by a one-man team.
However, that sort of success is always going to attract imitators wanting to get in on the series’ enormous financial success. Now, the creator of Five Nights at Freddy’s is pursuing legal action against one such developer, who released and sold an unofficial sequel using Apple’s App Store.
Official documents obtained by Polygon suggest that the game in question was released by someone named Lazada Polodi. Freddy’s creator Scott Cawthon has reportedly enlisted a legal team to help him find out who that is, and pursue a defence of his intellectual property.
While this might seem like an overblown response to the all-too-common scenario of a hit mobile game being given an unofficial follow-up via a well-known digital download storefront, it’s a smart move on Cawthon’s part. Five Nights at Freddy’s is at the peak of its popularity, and it would be unwise to let the brand be used without permission.
Moreover, it might not be his decision to make at all. Just last month, it was reported that Five Nights at Freddy’s had been optioned by Warner Bros. for a big screen adaptation. While this isn’t necessarily a solid indication that a movie will see release, it’s a definite indicator for the future of the franchise.
This isn’t a solo project anymore — if that movie goes into production, there could be scores of people working on Five Nights at Freddy’s in one way or another. That’s great for fans, but it means that Scott Cawthon has to hold the reins of his creation a little tighter.
Perhaps that might mean he has to be a little tougher on fan projects like this short film released over the weekend. Maybe he’ll be contractually obligated to produce sequels beyond the recently announced Final Chapter. At present, we simply don’t know — but as franchises like this grow, they typically become more and more unwieldy.
The success of Five Nights at Freddy’s has been one of the more intriguing stories of independent game development in recent years, and this next chapter looks set to be just as fascinating. Will Cawthon be able to avoid ‘selling out’ while delivering his fans more of the product they’re so keen for? We’ll have to wait and see.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 4: The Final Chapter is set to release this Halloween.