ZeniMax co-founder and CEO Robert A. Altman has died at the age of 73. At ZeniMax, Altman presided over some of the most beloved studios in videogames, including Fallout and Elder Scrolls developer Bethesda, Dishonored and Prey developer Arkane, Doom developer id Software, Wolfenstein developer MachineGames, and more.
“We are deeply saddened to tell you of the passing of Robert A. Altman, our founder and CEO,” Bethesda says in a tweet. “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.”
In 1984, Altman married former Wonder Woman actor Lynda Carter. They had two children, and their son, James, is now director of publishing operations at Bethesda. In a letter posted to the Bethesda website, James says “One of Robert’s most defining personal qualities was how much he always looked out for people, and cared for them. I find it fitting that Robert’s final great professional accomplishment – in a long career of professional accomplishments – was to make a deal to be acquired by Microsoft.”
James continues, “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.”
Since the announcement of Altman’s death, notable figures from across the industry shared their condolences.
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
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 met Robert Altman a couple years ago when he hosted @XboxP3 and me at their campus. I was immediately impressed by his knowledge, charisma, and passion. We drove around D.C., his comments made a powerful impression on me about our history. I wish his family the best. #sad https://t.co/qqf5ukCkug
— Mike Ybarra (@Qwik) February 4, 2021
I will fondly remember the time I was fortunate enough to spend with Robert. From professional advice to wonderful meals, he was always willing to share his take on the industry and life. He will be missed. https://t.co/0WiJLCuzsM
— Vince Zampella (@VinceZampella) February 4, 2021
This is very sad news. Robert loved the games industry, the creators and the fans. I will miss him.https://t.co/zpLF3Itvky
— Reggie Fils-Aime (@Reggie) February 4, 2021
Saddened by the loss of a great industry champion.💔 https://t.co/ycBUz449Pe
— Cory Barlog 🖖 (@corybarlog) February 4, 2021
Many people at ZeniMax had kind things to say about working with Altman, as well.
There really are no words. It's an extremely sad day for @BethesdaStudios and Zenimax. If you love our games, it's because of Robert's love for what we did, and his trust in our dreams. https://t.co/N21mOeP36V
— Emil Pagliarulo (@Dezinuh) February 4, 2021
There are no words that can sufficiently express how dearly loved and respected Robert Altman was, and how devastating this loss is.
He didn't just call us family. He made us feel like one.
My heart is with everyone mourning today. Rest in peace, Robert. https://t.co/ScQmLPd2KR
— Ellen "ln" Clarke (@NelleBot) February 4, 2021
Yesterday was hard day for the ZeniMax family.
His quarantine emails to the company, just like his speeches during Winter Meetings; were very inspirational and reassuring.
I am lucky to have shared a few conversations with him.
You will be missed.
My deepest condolences to all https://t.co/DLOnA5PAqP
— Jorge is still @ Home (@NotGeorgeSaenz) February 4, 2021
A very sad day. Deepest, sincerest heartfelt condolences to his friends and family. One of the absolute most exceptional leaders I've ever crossed paths with. https://t.co/YX5LNTyqqN
— IDDQDiaz (@Tenacious_Diaz) February 4, 2021
This one really hurts. Zenimax is hands down the best place I have ever worked, and Robert is a big reason why. He built a company around treating employees with respect and dignity and he did it with his leadership. My thoughts go out to his entire family and all my co-workers https://t.co/KDEoXBghOc
— Bill Mueller (@BillsAudio) February 4, 2021
This is an emotional and powerful loss. This wasn't just some exec of a company, he was a leader and a rock in many a storm. https://t.co/lpOEjHPdss
— Mike Kern (@miekkenr) February 4, 2021
Our thoughts are with Altman’s family, friends, and co-workers.