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."

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 wife Lynda and two children. The cause of death was not announced.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.