Robert A. Altman, the CEO and chairman of ZeniMax Media–parent company of Bethesda Softworks–has passed away, it was announced today. Bethesda shared the news in a post on Twitter, which you can see below, along with a letter from Altman’s son, James.
Altman pivoted from his previous work as a lawyer to gaming in 1999, when he and Bethesda Softworks founder Christopher Weaver founded ZeniMax Media. Consolidating Bethesda Softworks at the time, the publisher has gone on to include studios such as Arkane, iD Software, MachineGun Games, Tango Gamesworks, and more.
Bethesda celebrated its late CEO in a heartfelt post on Twitter, sharing one of Altman’s frequent emails to the company.
We are deeply saddened to tell you of the passing of Robert A. Altman, our Founder and CEO. He was a true visionary, friend, and believer in the spirit of people and the power of what they could accomplish together. He was an extraordinary leader, and an even better human being. pic.twitter.com/FZFsVtHc5t
— Bethesda (@bethesda) February 4, 2021
On Bethesda’s website, you can read a letter from James Altman, Bethesda’s director of publishing operations and Robert’s son. In it, he shares anecdotes such as how Robert would email the entire company if he had unused baseball tickets, and how Bethesda boss Todd Howard collected notes with Robert’s quips during meetings.
James also talked about the impending sale of ZeniMax to Microsoft, saying, “Robert and I had strategic discussions many times, and he was always uncompromising that he would never make a deal if our developers would not support it. ‘I don’t care how much money anyone offers. We will never be acquired unless it’s a good home for our studios,’ he would say. I can’t think of a better home than Microsoft. And all the more fitting that we will soon be working for Phil Spencer, of course, yet another of Robert’s close friends and a man Robert regularly described as one of the greatest minds in our industry.”
Both Spencer and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared their condolences to everyone at both ZeniMax and Bethesda. As noted above, Microsoft is currently in the process of acquiring ZeniMax Media and all of its studios.
A sad moment for the games industry. Robert Altman built ZeniMax into what it is today. My heart goes out to his family, loved ones, and colleagues. https://t.co/uOgSqKsGWH
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) February 4, 2021
I am incredibly saddened by the news that we have lost an industry icon, partner, and close friend Robert Altman. Sending love and strength to his family and all the teams at Zenimax/Bethesda during this very difficult time. https://t.co/f3JylOL0QJ
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) February 4, 2021
Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser is also among those speaking out on Twitter, sharing his shock over Altman’s passing.
Still in shock over the news of Robert’s passing. He was a visionary, a steadfast supporter and advocate of the video game industry, and kind person and friend to many of us. My thoughts are with his family. https://t.co/IjmN3g6OyI
— Doug Bowser (@thetruebowser) February 4, 2021
Altman is survived by his wife, Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter, and their two children.