There’s some merit to the point of this thread. There is charm to a lack of constant rebalancing, and the comparison with the ‘olden days’ where they used to do it all the time too is not exactly fair.
System-wise the differences between Alpha 1, 2 and 3 are so big, that you can’t compare that to SF4 going to SSF4 or SSF4AE going to USF4. Big massive system-wide changes where implemented. For all purposes except which sprites are being used, and the presence of an alpha counter, these games are new games.
Same can be said about CvS1 going to CvS2. Or SSF2 going to ST (to a lesser, but still serious extent).
That’s not always a good thing, of course, I would have like a better balanced Alpha 2 better than that Alpha 3 stuff.
Either way, I think the constant updates do somewhat impede on the actual evolution of the game. If you think how many cool new things were discovered, literally, decades after the release of ST for example. We’re never going to have that moment anymore, where suddenly a new insight will overturn our understanding of Vanilla SF4, because nobody plays it anymore.
And we even have proof, in a way, that the updates are coming by too quick. Remember how Jill was suddenly nerfed in UMVC3, while nobody thought of her as toptier? But Capcom said they had tech that made it seem like she was broken? It was never actually discovered!
I really feel once a year is pretty silly already.
But of course, Capcom has a business to run, and rebalances with enough changes for people to care, obviously helps restart the hype for a game.
One of the great things about fighting games is just how emergent much of the gameplay is. So much of the stuff that is done by player do was never intended in the original design, and that’s awesome, and interesting. And it takes away from the game somewhat when designers no longer ‘allow’ for the game to be emergent in that way.