Update: Cawthon announced in a later post that he's removing Five Nights at Freddy's World from Steam as his finishes the title. He's also decided that players can refund the game at any time and the game will be free going forward.
"Even though the game had a 'Very Positive' rating with 87%, I was not satisfied with the reviews and ratings it was getting," wrote Cawthon. "For that reason, I've decided to remove the game from Steam. I've also asked Valve to make it so that the game can be refunded regardless of the amount of the time it has been owned, meaning that anyone can get a refund at any time. It may take them a while to set that up, but it will be in place soon."
"I'm still going to work on FNaF World and polish it up. I'm busy creating a fully 3D overworld for the game. When I'm ready to update the game, I will replace the demo currently on GameJolt with the full game. From this point forward, the game will always be free."
Original story: Announced in September of last year, Five Nights at Freddy's World was intended as the first spin-off of the popular horror title. Instead of a first-person horror experience, FNAF World is a retro-style, turn-based RPG experience, in the style of old Final Fantasy games. The idea is players take control of Freddy and other animatronic characters in the dystopian world of the "Flipside". The game was announced for release on February 19, but then it mysteriously dropped a month early.
Despite the fact that 86 percent of Steam reviews are positive, the game's "Most Helpful" reviews are all negative. Common complaints include a barebones overworld map, a lack of general descriptions for items and attacks, no visible character stats, and poor visual presentation. Looking at the general reception, the problem seems to be that Cawthon jumped the gun following a previous delay of FNAF World.
The refreshing thing is Cawthon is perfectly honest about that fact.
"This isn't exactly an announcement that I'm enjoying writing, but it's one that I feel I owe to the community," wrote Cawthon in a Steam news post. "You know, I've been accused of rushing my games ever since FNaF 1, but I've never felt that I'd released a game too early... until now."
"There are a lot of features that this game should have had before release, features that I was told about, but ignored and didn't implement. Features such as being able to see what abilities do during battle, or being able to see a stats page for your characters. These are features that any good RPG would have."
"I got too eager to show the things that were finished, that I neglected to pay attention to the things that weren't," he added. "I'm going to fix this, and I'll be updated the game with these features in the coming weeks. So I say this to a community that I've enjoyed and respected for over a year and a half now- I'm sorry. I will continue to add features to the game and make it right."
Cawthon's response was only a day after the game's full release. For a turnaround in answering community issues, a single day is pretty amazing. Should the game have been launched in this state? No. Cawthon probably should've stuck with his original plan and released the game in February. Even then, his original development plan was probably missing features that people have come to expect when playing RPGs.
Despite that, I applaud a developer being open and honest with its community. Too many publishers and developers just ignore issues or try to spin liability for problems away from themselves. One of the drums I bang again and again is developers and publishers would benefit from just being open and honest. Fans and consumers are willing to listen and they're rather understanding if you tell them the truth upfront.
Case in point, the Steam news post linked above has a number of commenters who are quite angry and unhappy, but there's a surprising amount of goodwill aimed in Cawthon's direction. Being honest is a strong part of building trust, which is necessary for building a strong community. We know you're just human, devs. Admitting when you screwed up and actually fixing the problem is part of the process. (You can play this card over and over again though.)
Hopefully, the final product is one that fans enjoy. Until then, while Cawthon made a mistake releasing Five Nights at Freddy's World too early, he looks like he's heading in the right direction in fixing it.