Video games are typically thought of as solely a leisure activity—and they often are. But the gaming industry of 2019 is also proving to be a tech incubation powerhouse.
At the annual Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. this week, Roblox founder and CEO David Baszucki and Niantic CEO John Hanke discussed how innovation in gaming often expands beyond play.
"These platforms lead not only into play but also to a lot of other areas," Baszucki said. "I think the play angle is more accessible right now, but I think, ultimately, this will be an integral part of enterprise too."
Hanke noted that many apps like Uber or Yelp were built on top of Google's Maps offering. That includes the popular mobile game Pokémon Go, developed and published by Niantic. In turn, the app was a mass market augmented reality hit.
Now Niantic is fostering further innovation in both AR and virtual reality. The company launched a platform that enables others to leverage the data and infrastructure behind Pokémon Go and it's latest location-based AR game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
"In the developer contest that we're running right now, a number of applications that are being developed aren't games. They're not super serious enterprise applications either. But they bridge the space in between," Hanke said. "I think the opportunity for AR goes far beyond games. We view games as certainly a place to start, but our platform's open, and we're eager to see what kinds of useful things we can build in all kinds of areas"
Much of Roblox's gameplay also focuses on creation and offers a way for children to gain coding skills. As Baszucki noted, within the Roblox platform, there are approximately 2 million creators making 3D "experiences" that the rest of the player base can use.
On top of players and developers alike possessing a willingness to build upon existing gaming technology, the industry is attracting investors and partners all over the world.
Roblox has been working with Tencent, opening up the Chinese market to the U.S.-based company. It provides an opportunity for developers to think more broadly about what they create and tailor it to a global market.
Investment in gaming from Asian countries—predominantly China, Japan, and South Korea—isn't unique to Roblox. Niantic and others are seeing the global growth opportunities as well.
"If you look at Asia, you can sort of see in to the future a little bit in terms of the mainstream impact of games as a media force and as a social force. Looking at Korea, Japan, and China, you see gaming embraced as important as any other kind of media," Hanke said.
More must-read stories from Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2019:
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—Ancestry CEO talks genetic data privacy and the business of DNA testing
—Analyst: Expect more tech regulation despite declining user privacy concerns
—Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield isn’t worried about battling chief rival Microsoft
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