Everyone, I have a confession to make: I, Nathan Grayson of Kotaku dot com, am not making the Five Nights At Freddy’s movie. I just really feel the need to set the record straight on that.
OK, time for some backstory: Last year, it was announced that Warner Bros had picked up the rights to make a movie based on Five Nights At Freddy’s, the massively popular horror game about a demonic pizza bear and his wacky friends who want to murder you. “Ah,” I said to myself, smoking a cigar while cloaked in luxury pajamas with the words, ‘The News Never Sleeps’ written on them [CITATION NEEDED], “I sense video game news.” So I decided to write a quick post about it.
Then came the emails.
OK, I figured upon seeing a few along these lines, not quite my domain of knowledge, but you know, easy mistake. I write news for a living, so sure, it makes sense that somebody would think I’d have insider info.
But they didn’t stop there.
I got others, too, asking if I would cast certain popular YouTubers in various roles, and when filming was due to begin. This wasn’t an isolated incident, either. I wrote the post in April of 2015. I continued to receive emails well into December of that year. At first I thought maybe this was a mass effort to troll me, but the emails just kept trickling in, month after month. And if there’s one thing I know about trolls, it’s that their attention spans are not exactly built to last.
Now, there are some things to consider here: 1) Five Nights at Freddy’s fanbase tends to skew younger due, at least in part, to the many YouTubers who make videos of it, and children—precious treasures and sources of young blood for Peter Thiel though they might be—don’t always understand how the world works.
Further, we live in a time where, increasingly, announcements like these come directly from the source. PR and marketing drop this kind of info on Facebook and Twitter, while sites like Kotaku transition into covering things after they’ve released (or digging into scandals PR and marketing would rather not see the light of day).
It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which a young kid, perhaps regrettably, doesn’t really understand what an independent press site is, how it functions, or why it’s important that it maintains distance from publishers and, in this case, movie studios. They just see an announcement and assume that, yeah, of course the people delivering news of the thing are also making the thing.
That said, 2) this is a tradition as old as Time Itself, or at least video game coverage, which sometimes feels like it’s been going on longer than Time Itself. I remember hearing stories from my favorite editors at magazines like Computer Gaming World and Electronic Gaming Monthly (RIP) about fan letters that basically amounted to, “Hi, can you make a sequel to Game X?” Even at Kotaku, in this era of less opaque game development processes, we occasionally get emails like that.
More commonly, we’ll get messages from people who want us to Do Something, Damn It about their video game-related dilemma. Stuff along the lines of, “A developer banned me from their Steam forum. Write something to MAKE THEM REGRET IT” or “I asked a major publisher to give me a free item. Can you do a whole entire post about that on your site that reaches millions of people so that the publisher will give me a thing?”
Maybe this is just what we get for muddying the waters of coverage by posting about TV shows and snacks. Bewilderment, misunderstanding, chaos.
So yeah, I’m not making the Five Nights At Freddy’s movie. I’m deeply, truly sorry about that. I will try harder next time.