Last week, I reported on Byuu, an emulator developer and game archivist who was trying to preserve every single SNES game ever made. He declared his plan “dead,” however, after $10,000 worth of rare games went missing in the mail. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.
Today, Byuu finally received his package. A European collector who goes by the handle Smarthuman sent it to him at the start of January as part of a plan to archive every game from the PAL (Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, and Oceania) region, but then it went missing. Byuu thought it might have been stolen, and he claimed that USPS wasn’t exactly helpful in tracking it down. He ended up trying to raise money to pay back Smarthuman, something he said was his idea, not a demand from Smarthuman.
What a difference a week (and a fuck-ton of media coverage) can make.
“Finally, today, February 23rd, the ordeal is finally over!” Byuu wrote. “The package arrived safely, with all games in-tact.”
So, what happened? Well, after Byuu made the news, USPS apparently bumped him up the priority list. “On February 16th, finally a manager at the USPS Consumer Affairs department took note of the case,” said Byuu. “And I mean that literally: he told me straight up the reason he was contacting me was because of the news articles he had encountered on this case. So thanks to the coverage, I finally had a strong contact within the USPS who passed me to his employee who then proceeded to open an investigation and help search for the package.”
As it turns out, USPS machinery apparently tore the label off Byuu’s package. Byuu claims the package made a slight detour from its intended destination of Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia. It took a fair amount of work, but USPS was able to track down the package using pictures Byuu provided.
So Byuu has his package, but what now? For one, he’s offering refunds on all donations people made to help Smarthuman replace the games. As for his project to archive unmodified copies of every SNES game, he’s decided to resume it after all, but with some changes.
“Given all that’s happened, I’ve lost a lot of trust in shipping games like this, as I am sure the donor has as well,” said Byuu. “Going forward, I’ll only be accepting loans like this in much smaller quantities per shipment. But even with the donor’s games, I am still shy around 300 PAL games to complete the set.”
He has a Patreon, and he’s hoping to use a slow trickle of donations to purchase a handful of other PAL games. “After preserving each game, I’ll then turn around and sell them back, probably at a small loss each time,” he said. “And then I’ll put those funds back into the pool to buy more PAL games.”
“Given the expense and churn of this process, it’ll probably still take a few years to complete the PAL set at this rate,” he added.
It’s not an efficient plan, but it’s less risky. If nothing else, Byuu’s learned a lesson from all this. “All I can do is caution people to minimize the amount of valuables sent through [USPS],” he said, “and to make sure that 100% of the value of their items are covered by insurance.”