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Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Sunk Costs" and buying items

I have seen it happen too many times where someone on my team starts building an item to counter the enemy team, only to realize halfway through building the item that what he was building would no longer be effective. Most of the time, that person continues to finish the item. A practical example would be someone who starts to build Force of Nature, only to realize after buying 2/3 of the item that the enemy team's AP users are no threat and the primary damage-dealers are AD users. What's the best thing to do in this situation? According to economists, items that have already been paid for are considered "sunk costs" and should not influence what to buy in the future.

According to wikipedia, "sunk costs are retrospective (past) costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered...[t]raditional economics proposes that an economic actor not let sunk costs influence one's decisions, because doing so would not be rationally assessing a decision exclusively on its own merits."
Wikipedia uses the example of purchasing a movie ticket in advance and then realizing that he does not like the movie. In that situation, the moviegoer has two options: (1) suffering through the movie or (2) using that time to do something more fun.

Good visual aid
In other words, it does not make sense to let a past purchase dictate your future action. When applied to LoL, this means that if you start building Force of Nature because you think the enemy team will be heavy AP users but then realize that you need to defend primarily against AD, it is more rational to stop buying items for FoN and start itemizing for armor.

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