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Deer Park’s Mean Hamster Software shuts down, eight positions eliminated

We have to say, dang it, we wanted Mean Hamster Software to make it.

But, sadly, owner John Swiderski just closed his eight-person software shop, which has operated in Deer Park since 2005.

Here's the gist of an article soon to appear on Spokesman.com:

JOHN SWIDERSKI'S technology company has been wiped out by the apps tsunami. His Deer Park firm, Mean Hamster Software, just closed down, crushed by the inability to compete with mobile games.

From 2005 to 2010, Swiderski’s energetic software firm grew to 21 workers and built several successful games for sites like Yahoo Games and PlayFirst.

But websites where people play games are out of fashion. The game industry has shifted toward mobile games played on phones and tablets.

Once mobile apps became the dominant system for game developers, companies that were depending on web-based games got caught.

“We couldn’t compete with thousands of people who were able to become low-cost developers,” he said.

Plus, the new marketplaces of iTunes and the Android store made it vastly simpler for anyone to upload a game and reach thousands of potential customers.

 “So there was a lot more competition with the very large app companies, and with indie developers, and that all left me unable to acquire any more third-party contract work,” Swiderski said.

By July 1 Mean Hamster had shrunk to eight workers.

Swiderski tried hard to find jobs for his crew, calling firms from Spokane to Seattle.

He shut down the office last week,

“I paid my workers before I closed shop. That was the right thing to do, but it left me personally broke,” Swiderski said.

At this point he’s joined his former workers on the job-search front. “If I can’t find employment here, I’ll have to move to Seattle. I don’t only do games. I’m a producer, a project manager and a designer. But there aren’t many jobs in Spokane.”

REMAINDER of story will appear in this weekend's Spokesman Review.