Robert A. Altman, co-founder of the influential holding company ZeniMax Media, has passed away at age 73.
ZeniMax subsidiary Bethesda broke the news on social media, announcing the death of “an extraordinary leader, and an even better human being.” The staff remarked on his personal approach, adding that he had sent weekly emails to his staff throughout the pandemic to celebrate their accomplishments.
On the occasion of the company’s 21st anniversary, he told staff: “You have done something extraordinary, something few startups ever do. You have created a multinational, multi-billion dollar business, […] earning the admiration of our toughest competitors and devoted fans. And you have done it the right way, always faithful to our core principles of integrity, respect, team, quality.”
Altman had celebrated his 37th anniversary with Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter last week. Their son, James, eulogized Robert in a statement on Bethesda’s website:
“I asked him, after 20 years, and all the success the Company had seen, what he was most proud of. Robert told me […] he was most proud that the thousands of families of our employees could have food on the table, afford books, education and opportunities, all because of the Company he had built. ‘What makes it even better,’ he said, ‘is that our employees get to make a living making games – something they love.'”
Altman was a lawyer by trade, practicing in Washington, D.C. He founded ZeniMax Media in 1999 with Bethesda founder Christopher Weaver and served as chairman and CEO. The company acquired the Fallout license from Interplay Entertainment in 2004 and relaunched it successfully with 2008’s Fallout 3. Among its other notable acquisitions was iD Software, creators of DOOM and Prey. ZeniMax Online Studios was founded in 2008 to focus on MMO titles like The Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 76. Microsoft announced plans to acquire ZeniMax and its subsidiaries last September for $7.5 billion, a deal which will serve as one of Altman’s last acts.
“Closing our deal with Microsoft will be a bittersweet moment for all of us,” James Altman wrote. “But I take comfort in knowing that our Company is and will be in the capable hands of Robert’s friends [at Microsoft]. And I know that we will continue to honor his legacy by making the world’s greatest games for our fans.”