Thanks to the US Postal Service, the SNES Preservation Project is dead. On January 5th a European SNES collector sent a package containing 100 games to Byuu, the creator of the Higan SNES emulator, who was going to create digital copies of each of the games before posting them all back to the collector. Only, the package never arrived at Byuu's home. Either lost or stolen by USPS the package containing 100 games, worth up to £8,000, is gone.
This was the second package of five the collector had sent over. The collection was going to form a big chunk of the SNES Presevation archive. Byuu is now working to reimburse the collector. This isn't something the collector asked, Byuu says, but something he feels it is his responsibility to do.
"This much is certain," Byuu says, "the SNES preservation project is officially and permanently dead.
"I do still want to dump and scan the Japanese games I already purchased. But we will never have a complete PAL set. I can't ever afford it, I won't risk purchases with the incompetent USPS anyway, and I will never again accept cartridges lent to me. And considering I've had exactly zero offers to give me PAL carts (meaning it would be more acceptable if they were lost in the mail), that means no more PAL games."
With USPS still not admitting the package is lost, Byuu is still trying to make an insurance claim on the missing games. Until then he'll be taking money out of his pay to refund the collector.
While you may be thinking this is a scam and that Byuu received the games and is just keeping them for himself, Byui is a very well-respected member of the SNES community. For more than a decade he has been maintaining the Higan emulator, a tool he wrote.
The SNES preservation community is currently trying to get answers from USPS to track down where the package went missing - it was held up in customs for a long time but appears to have made it into the US, at least - and potentially start a crowdfunding campaign to fund reimbursement of the collector. You can follow their efforts here.
There is still some hope. While six weeks is a long time for a package to arrive. Shipping boxes internationally can be hit by strange delays, with packages arriving months after they were sent. Maybe, just maybe the games will be okay. Until then, the SNES Preservation Project is going nowhere.