Posted October 1, 2020 by Andrew Cathie in Feature

Save Transfer Issues Are Limiting The Appeal of Free PS4-PS5 Game Upgrades

PlayStation 5 Console
PlayStation 5 Console

Cross generation game releases are nothing new. For generations now we’ve been in situations where the same game is released for both the current and next generation consoles, with some tweaks to make the game look and run better on more powerful hardware. In the past if you decided you wanted to upgrade to the next gen version of a game, you would have to buy that new game outright again or in some limited cases pay an upgrade free. This time around we have free upgrades that will bump your game up to the latest version, but issues with save transfers are making free PS4-PS5 upgrades the worse option.

The idea behind free PS4-PS5 game upgrades is that you can start your game on your PS4 and shift over to PS5 when you purchase that console. The understanding is that you might be part way through that game and are looking to continue your progress on the new hardware. However, issues with PlayStation’s save system seems to be causing issues for developers and so transfers aren’t being supported by a number of games.

Yakuza: Like A Dragon, DiRT 5 and Maneater are examples of games that won’t support a transfer of your save, despite their Xbox One to Xbox Series X|S upgrade path supporting it. Similarly, we have no confirmation that games like Assasssin’s Creed Valhalla or Cyberpunk 2077 (Check out our past Gamescomes impressions of Cyberpunk 2077 here) will support save transfers. Most of these are lengthy games you’re expected to invest a lot of time into, so losing 20-30 hours of progress would be utterly frustrating for most and completely insurmountable for some. On the flipside, we do have some confirmation of games that will support a save transfer like Spider-Man: Miles Morales (but not Spider-Man Remastered), Marvel’s Avengers and Rainbow Six Siege.

This isn’t the first time PlayStation have run into issues with their save system either, with certain game saves not working between GOTY and vanilla versions of a game. What seems to be the issue is the SKU system utilised by PlayStation, where brand new SKUs of a game can completely kill save compatibility, even if that new SKU is identical in content to what you already own.

The issue here isn’t just that games won’t support cross generation saves, but that there’s now an uncertainty on which games will support save transfers. There’s no blanket ‘Yes all games will/won’t support cross saves’ and so every upgrade that’s announced needs to be clarified by the developer, while consumers are left wondering what’s happening. At launch, where many people might need to wait a couple of months to get a console, not knowing if your progress can carry over is a hindrance and frustration.

For comparison, this isn’t an issue for Xbox One to Xbox Series X|S upgrades at all. Every single one of the third party games mentioned here will support save transfers between current and next generation consoles without an issue. In fact, you also get perfectly working cloud saves without the need to pay additional fees, so your saves will come with you without any hassle whatsoever.

Now, for these games, the benefits for the free PS4-PS5 upgrades comes down to whether or not you can get a PS4 copy at a cheaper price, like I can here in Australia. Games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Yakuza: Like A Dragon, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and more can be bought for $10-$30 cheaper on currently generation hardware, with the free upgrade bumping them up to the best quality version. If you’re jumping straight into the games on PS5 and don’t need to worry about restarting your progress, this is still the best way to go to buy many cross-generation games right now. Here’s hoping PlayStation can find a way to make save transfers work a little easier between PS4 and PS5 moving forwards.

Andrew Cathie

Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.