Few people in the world outside of Riot Games' developers know more about their auto chess battler, Teamfight Tactics (TFT), than William "Scarra" Li. The former long-time professional League of Legends player turned Twitch streamer has been playing the game since its' inception, competed in tournaments, created informational content on his Youtube channel, formed a professional relationship with members of the development team and is one of the go-to sources for anything and everything TFT.
When the game launched back in June, Scarra was all over it. His Twitch stream brought in tens of thousands of new faces into the scene on a daily basis and the question became "is auto chess 2019's version of the battle royale genre?"
As the year comes to an end, interest in the title itself is fleeting, according to TwitchTracker. Viewership from its peak until now has been cut by 80% and the number of individuals streaming the game is down by 75% or more.
But why? TFT developers are known for being easily accessible on social media platforms, the game is patched/updated often and the meta itself changes on a regular basis. Scarra has spent time mulling over this himself and came to a conclusion in a conversation with Inven Global:
"The big thing about TFT that people don't realize is that it is similar to [PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds] and League of Legends in that most of the playerbase and viewer base is in China. Riot Games' official stats said TFT increased China's actual play-rate for League of Legends by 35%. And since China is like 80%-plus of the actual user base, that is a huge deal. The problem is that TFT, PUBG, and League of Legends are kind of dying/floundering in the west and there really isn't much that they can do to kind of solve that situation.
"I'd say they did a really good job with certain aspects of Set 2 (like removing a lot of the RNG mechanics) but just, in general, it just seems like it's not a game that western audiences enjoy that much, at least North America. I think European audiences are okay. I think it showed in Dota Auto Chess as well that there were a lot of really, really highly ranked European players and less in NA."
Now that that one of the main problems has been identified, what's there to be done? Teamfight Tactics' active player count isn't made public so it's unknown if fewer people are playing the game overall or if they just don't find watching the game on Twitch to be as enjoyable as before. Solving these big-picture problems isn't something in Scarra's control but he does believe that making the game more team-friendly is a start.
"I don't think it is something that Riot can necessarily fix. They just try and put out the best product and hopefully, somewhere down the line, they're able to put out a product good enough bring in new players and attract players back. I think the biggest problem with the game so far, aside from the general overall declining interest in the west, is mainly that the game is not enjoyable to play with friends. Generally speaking, you can't really play with another person and have fun. It is more situational where you exist in the same game but you are not really interacting that much between each other. I think that above all things is probably the biggest problem with the game."
One way to enhance the feeling of group play would be to add different game modes to the client that incentivize teamwork, according to Scarra.
"I thought that it would be nice to have a 2 V 2 V 2 V 2 mode. I think having a teammate, not only for competitive but in general, makes for a better storyline. Having someone there to share your trials and tribulations with would be really nice. I think that'd be a cool idea. I also think having more interaction between the players in the game would definitely be very nice but I don't know how they would go about doing that."
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.