PS4 save files don’t work on PS5 — except when they do

PS5 Yakuza Like a Dragon
(Image credit: Sega)

Will PS4 save files work on upgraded PS5 games? It’s a thorny question, and the best answer we can gleam so far is “sometimes.” Maneater won’t support save transfers. Yakuza: Like a Dragon won’t either. Spider-Man: Miles Morales will — but the core Spider-Man game won’t. 

It sounds like each developer gets to decide for itself whether or not to make PS4 save files compatible with the PS5. That’s fine if you intend to finish all your PS4 games before upgrading your console, and potentially troublesome otherwise.

Information comes from a series of tweets, compiled by PlayStation fan site Push Square. The confusion began when RGG Studio, the team behind Yakuza: Like a Dragon, tweeted that “save data will not be transferable between the PS4 and PS5” versions of the game.

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While many PS4 games (including Yakuza) will offer free upgrades to their PS5 counterparts, that upgrade does not guarantee save data compatibility. Along similar lines, we learned last week that Spider-Man PS4 save files won’t transfer over to the remastered PS5 version of the game. But just to add an extra layer of confusion, save files for Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PS4 will transfer over to the upgraded PS5 version. The save file situation can differ drastically, even within different facets of the same game.

The frustrating thing is that it’s not clear what players should expect the “standard” approach to be. Gene Park, a journalist for the Washington Post, had “[heard] from lots of different devs that PS4 saves won’t work on PS5.” But clearly, some devs will offer cross-save functionality, so it’s a question of which devs, which games, and what kind of pattern we can expect to emerge over time.

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With lots of cross-platform launch window titles, it’s not an academic question. Players who buy games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs Legion or Cyberpunk 2077 on a PS4 in November could very easily get a PS5 come January, before finishing those titles. If they can’t bring their save files to a new console, their free PS5 version upgrades come with an unfortunate caveat: having to restart the game.

If that weren’t enough, there’s actually an additional snag, because the PS5 will be backwards compatible with most PS4 games. Does this mean that players will be able to choose between backwards-compatible and upgraded versions of, say, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on the PS5? If so, how striking will the graphical and gameplay differences be? And will it alleviate the save data dilemma?

It’s a confusing situation, and one that probably won’t get ironed out until we see the PS5 in action. If you intend to start a big, expansive game on the PS4 and finish it on the PS5, however, be aware that you may have to change your plans.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.