The delineation between console generations is muddier than ever. Microsoft’s two next-gen machines, the Xbox Series X and the slightly lower-powered Xbox Series S, have been out for about a year and a half. In that time, you can count the number of true next-gen Xbox games on one hand. The rare qualifier: Shredders.
Shredders, developed by FoamPunch and released last month for Xbox Series X/S and PC (but, notably, not for Xbox One) is a snowboarding game with a focus on replicating what it actually feels like to hit the slopes. (Think Skate but for snowboarding.) Though it’s a small game made by a small team, with some minor visual compromises you’d expect, it still required the horsepower of a next-gen console. That’s for one simple reason: frame rate.
“This kind of game needs 60 fps to run right, or 50 at least, which would be possible, for example, on [an Xbox] One X,” FoamPunch’s Dirk Van Welden told Kotaku in a recent interview. “On a One S, with that amount of memory, you need to already start giving a lot of visual stuff away, or you don’t have the same frame rate, and the game would feel different.”
Indeed, it’s tough to imagine what Shredders would play like with a frame rate any lower than what it currently has. For the most part, the game maintains a solid frame rate, though in the game’s Scary Dairy area — which is based on a real-world snowboarding location, by the way — it notably dips. But otherwise, Shredders is as smooth as the butters you can stomp in-game.
“Microsoft wanted it to be on Xbox One as well,” Van Welden said while noting that FoamPunch opted not to develop a version for that platform. “It was our decision. It was never Xbox’s decision.”
Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication, but a reticence to move all-in on the current generation of consoles is in lockstep with the company’s stated plans. In 2020, Microsoft’s Matt Booty said the company planned to release across generations for the first year or two following the Xbox Series X/S’s launch in November that year. At the time, Xbox head Phil Spencer acknowledged to Kotaku that requesting developers optimise games for machines with two separate sets of technical specs could increase the workload.
For the most part, though, throughout the Xbox Series X’s lifespan, games have been released across console generations.
Around the console’s launch, in lieu of a lineup anchored by any marquee exclusives, Microsoft instead opted to promote roughly 30 games that were “optimised for Xbox Series X/S,” meaning they feature higher frame rates and sharper visuals than their last-gen counterparts. That list has since grown to comprise more than 120 games. Blockbusters like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 released on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. (Both smashed records in their respective series.) The library for Game Pass, Microsoft’s immensely popular games-on-demand subscription service, is continually built out by a bunch of cross-gen games on a biweekly basis.
But a select few games have been next-gen-only. In January 2021, Bloober Team released The Medium, a horror game, as an Xbox Series X/S exclusive, citing the power of a next-gen console as a necessity to render its dual worlds simultaneously. (The Medium is now available on PlayStation 5 as well, but not PlayStation 4.) There’s Phigames’ moody metroidvania, Recompile, available on Xbox Series X/S and PS5. For its console port, Microsoft Flight Sim was only made available on next-gen.
Shredders is the latest member of this exclusive class. Compared to generations past, it’s a smaller class than ever.
Take the Xbox One, for instance. A year and a half into its cycle, the list of games that were available on Xbox One but not its predecessor, the Xbox 360, was a far more robust list of true next-gen-only games, including but not limited to Ori and the Blind Forest, Dead Rising 3, Forza Motorsport 5, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Dying Light, Evolve, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Ryse: Son of Rome, and the criminally neglected Sunset Overdrive.
Over the course of the PS5’s first year and a half, its lineup of true exclusives is a bit larger than the Series X/S’s, but not by much. It includes Destruction AllStars (RIP), Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Returnal, a remake of Demon’s Souls, and Astro’s Playroom. One next-gen launch title, Godfall, got backward ported to PS4 half a year after its release. Funny enough, two of the biggest recent PS5 exclusives, Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo, were (technically) published by Microsoft. (Both are available on PC as well.) But even Sony’s biggest first-party games, like Horizon Forbidden West, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Gran Turismo 7, launched for both PS4 and PS5. The deliriously anticipated God of War Ragnarök, slated for later this year, will also release across console generations.
The transition period does appear to be winding down, though, as Microsoft seems poised to leave the Xbox One behind. Through the rest of the year, some of the company’s most-promoted games — Starfield, Redfall, Scorn, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2 — are planned for Xbox Series X/S but not Xbox One. Those are in addition to a slew of third-party multiplatform games like Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora and A Plague Tale: Requiem planned for next-gen machines only. Good thing the Xbox Series X is easier to buy these days. Well, kind of.