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ZeniMax CEO Robert A. Altman has died

Robert A. Altman
(Image credit: ZeniMax Media)

Robert A. Altman, who co-founded Bethesda Softworks parent company ZeniMax Media in 1999, has died.

Altman launched ZeniMax with Bethesda Softworks founder Christopher Weaver, after which Altman assumed the CEO role. Bethesda remained the more well-known name among gamers, but the ZeniMax name became more prominent with the launch of the ZeniMax Online Studios division in 2007.

In an announcement today, Bethesda described Altman as "a true visionary, friend, and believer in the spirit of people and the power of what they could accomplish together."

"We are proud to carry on the values and principles Robert taught us," Bethesda said. "We extend our deepest sympathies to Robert's family, who are a part of our family and have always treated us as part of theirs."

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Altman's death led to expressions of sadness and respect from industry leaders including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson, and Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who described Altman as "an industry icon, partner, and close friend." Arkane Austin director Harvey Smith also expressed heartbreak over the loss.

"Our hearts are heavy with sadness by the sudden passing of our board chairman and an industry giant, Robert Altman," the Entertainment Software Association said in a statement. "Robert was a visionary leader who empowered his talented team to create works that not only spoke to generations of fans, but inspired them to come together as communities. His immense legacy and influence within the video game industry, as well as his contributions to the Washington, D.C. community, are only surpassed by his role as a loving husband and caring father."

Altman was born in 1947, and is survived by his life Lynda and two children. The cause of death was not announced.

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Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.