I’m sorry to report that the founder and CEO of ZeniMax Media, Robert A. Altman, has apparently passed away. He was 74. The news came directly from Bethesda’s Twitter account, where staff shared one of Altman’s recent memos to the teams urging them to take time to care for themselves during the pandemic.
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
ZeniMax Media, of course, is the parent company for multiple game studios in our purview, including ZeniMax Online Studios and Bethesda Softworks, with franchises spanning from Fallout to Elder Scrolls. As our readers will know well, Elder Scrolls Online is one of the MMORPG genre’s top titles, and it’s won multiple awards in recent years. ZeniMax Media itself was purchased by Microsoft in 2020 for $7.5B.
ZeniMax Online Studios Creative Director Rich Lambert said he was “absolutely stunned and crushed” by the news. “Robert was not only a great leader, but more importantly an amazing human. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him and his support,” he wrote. “To all his colleagues, friends and most importantly family – I grieve for you all. He will be sorely missed.”
Our deep condolences to Altman’s family and everyone who works under the ZeniMax banner.
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
“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. 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.”