Less than two months out from the PlayStation 5’s launch, there’s still quite a bit we don’t know about Sony’s next-gen console. And now with news from Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Dirt 5, and Maneater about the transition from this to the next generation, one of the biggest mysteries involves a question more relevant to this generation than ever before — can we keep playing our PS4 game saves on PS5?
The question is actually twofold — will saves for backward compatible PS4 games carry over to the PS5, or will players have to start fresh on any PS4 games they want to play on next-gen hardware? And secondly, will all cross-gen games, which either have paid or free upgrades from the PS4 or PS5 versions, require new saves to be started for those who began on the PS4 version and want to take advantage of the new, shiny PS5 iteration?
IGN has reached out to Sony for comment on both questions, and will update this story should they respond, but here’s where the murky situation currently rests.
PS4/PS5 Cross-Gen Games
There’s the matter of games that aren’t just backward compatible but that, in this launch window, will have both PS4 and PS5 versions of the same game. There’s no standard approach to how these are offered — some, like Marvel’s Avengers, support free upgrades and cross-save support — while others like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War support cross-progression but requires players to either purchase an upgrade or cross-gen bundle to play the PS5 version with all its bells and whistles.
Even though PS4 to PS5 game upgrades are varied, progression seemed a largely answered question. But Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Maneater, and Dirt 5 added confusion to the mix, as Yakuza’s March PS5 release date announcement also confirmed that PS4 saves for the game can’t be carried over to the PS5 version if players decide to upgrade. Dirt 5’s developers confirmed that, while Playgrounds creations can be migrated, other game progress, like career mode and currency, cannot be moved from the PS4 to PS5. Codemasters does leave the door open to that changing, however, so it’s possible this issue could be resolved. And, lastly, Maneater will let players upgrade to the PS5 version for free, but will not let them carry over saves, Trophies, and stats, whereas they will be able to on Xbox.
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The key may be in Maneater’s upgrade description, which says “This IS a separate application/game on PlayStation 5.”
Confusion around Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered also brought this question of save transfers up, as those who are playing Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4 can’t upgrade to the remastered version, but have to buy it as part of the Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition, nor can they use saves from the PS4 game with the remaster. The remaster is functionally being treated as its own game, rather than a patch to the existing game.
This is, of course, not the case with the Xbox One to Xbox Series X and S versions of those third-party games, where Microsoft’s Smart Delivery service enables developers to transfer data forward to the next-gen hardware. We’ve asked Sony for comment on if there’s any standard the company has for the PS4 to PS5 shift, or whether it’s a developer-by-developer decision to enable such transfers.
But as for now, it raises a frustrating conundrum, especially for players who weren’t able to secure a PS5 preorder for launch. Is it worth it to start a game on PS4 this fall, knowing progress might not carry over when a player eventually is able to get a PS5, or should they just wait to play a game they’ve potentially been looking forward to, until they can get a PS5 or, in the case of Yakuza, the PS5 version actually comes out.
PS4 Backward Compatible Saves
PS5 backward compatibility as a whole is something PlayStation hasn’t said officially all that much about, at least in a feature breakdown capacity. After a summer of confusion and, let’s be honest, hopeful thinking, PlayStation’s Jim Ryan confirmed PS3, PS2, and PS1 discs would not be backward compatible with the PS5. Not a huge surprise, given that the PS4 wasn’t either, but since earlier this year Sony has made clear that the vast majority of the PS4 library will be backward compatible with the PS5.
But, as silly as a thing as it may be to consider, Sony has yet to explain in detail how that backward compatible process works, including exceptions to the feature, the difference between physical discs and digital copies if any, and, naturally, whether saves will carry over for PS4 games. Sony’s Jim Ryan spoke in an interview back in 2019 about how the PS5 would let you carry over your progress in games from the PS4 to the PS5, which seemingly puts the topic to rest. But because it’s something Sony hasn’t directly addressed in PS5 showcases and blog posts, it’s something IGN has seen readers and viewers confused about, as you can hear in the episode of our weekly PlayStation show, Podcast Beyond!, at the top of this story.
Sony previously made cross-buy, cross-play, and cross-save features a big part of gaming in the PS3 and PS Vita era, and even at the start of the PS4, when games could be enable to allow for cross-play between the two Sony systems, saves could be shared across the same games when released for both platforms, and buying it on one of those platforms entitled you to it on the other as well. The naming convention has largely disappeared from Sony’s current portfolio, given the increased focus on just the PS4 and no separate system.
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But it predates even Microsoft’s Play Anywhere initiative, and some of its biggest inroads on backward compatibility on the Xbox One and, eventually, the Xbox Series X and S, which will employ cloud saves, a feature PlayStation supports on the PS4, to let players migrate old saves onto next-gen Xbox consoles.
There is no reason to assume things have changed since Ryan spoke, as the company has not stated otherwise since then. But because we still don’t know the full extent of the PS5’s backward compatibility, and the PS4-PS5 upgrade save process is now seemingly different from one developer to the next, it leaves questions hanging as we get closer to the PS5’s launch. And even if the answers aren’t great, and players do have to wait to play a game on PS5, the overarching problem is we just don’t know when we’ll get those answers.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior News Editor and host of Podcast Beyond! Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.
Source: IGN Video Games All