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The Untold Truth Of Robert Altman

Robert A. Altman, co-founder and CEO of ZeniMax Media, parent company of such video game studios as Bethesda Softworks and MachineGames, died on Feb. 4, 2021. On Bethesda's website, James Altman wrote a tribute to his late father, where he spoke fondly of their bond. The two worked together at ZeniMax Studios, and in his message, he shared stories that illustrated his father's integrity and character.

On Twitter, Bethesda posted in response to the news of his death, calling him "an extraordinary leader, and an even better human being." In the Tweet, the studio shared a heartfelt email he wrote to his entire company, where he encouraged its recipients to care for themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Altman teamed up with Christopher Weaver in 1999 to create the Bethesda parent company, and under his leadership, the organization expanded to become a major player in the video game market — so much so that heads turned after Microsoft bought Zenimax Media for a sizable $7.5 billion. This is the untold truth of Robert Altman.

Robert Altman was married to Wonder Woman

Lynda Carter is beloved by many for her heroic portrayal in one of the best screen adaptations of Wonder Woman. While many will recognize her as the mighty DC superhero, few may know that she was also married to Robert Altman.

Her relationship with Altman spanned nearly four decades, and in that time they had two children and a loving relationship. Altman was supportive of Carter while she was struggling with alcohol dependency, and she has said that he was able to inspire her to overcome the addiction. Carter also provided voices for many games produced by Altman's company.

Carter attributed the success of their marriage to their contrasting personalities. In a conversation with Daily Mail, she described her late husband as "very smart, very charming and very even-tempered, and while he's a lot of fun and has a great sense of humour, around other people he's more self-contained."

Robert Altman had a larger vision for ZeniMax early on

Back in 2009, roughly 20 years after ZeniMax Media was formed, Doom developer id Software joined forces with Robert Altman's company, which was a major step in ZeniMax's journey to where it is today. Who would have suspected that one partnership would have been the first of many, leading the company to such tremendous heights? 

Apparently, this was part of his vision very early on. In an interview with IGN, Altman was asked if "this particular acquisition [was] part of a larger strategy of expansion at ZeniMax or merely a promising one-time opportunity." While he did view such a merger as "a unique opportunity," he also confirmed that the partnership with id was only the beginning. He continued by stating that the two companies had "lots of plans for growth and expansion[.]" Indeed, the fate he foresaw for the company came true, and his vision was realized with ZeniMax's many expansions and acquisitions.

Robert Altman almost sold ZeniMax to EA

PS5 seemingly players had their hopes crushed when Microsoft bought ZeniMax Media, leaving the exclusivity of future games by Bethesda and other studios in question. However, the company's fate could have been much different.

According to Bloomberg, Altman entertained the idea of selling ZeniMax well before the recent Microsoft deal. One of the potential buyers was Electronic Arts. As the article concluded, "in the end, he found the perfect choice: a classy operator at a fancy price."

What's especially interesting about this partnership that almost happened is that Bethesda actually sued EA back in 1988 after the former helped the latter design a football game that never saw the light of day. The basis of the suit was that EA only wanted to work with Bethesda as a way of stealing code for the wildly successful Madden NFL series.

Perhaps it was this reason that Altman decided against the EA deal. Considering the history between Bethesda and EA, it was probably for the best that such a sale never went through.

Robert Altman was a chairman for the Entertainment Software Association

Bethesda reached a major landmark in 2015 when it joined the Entertainment Software Association. Since his company owned Bethesda, this move made Robert Altman a chairman for the ESA.

The ESA is an organization that's responsible for the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3). It is also directly involved with congressional lobbying. Considering his position with the ESA, Altman had a lot more power and influence in the industry than some may have realized.

He spoke highly of the organization, saying it had "a long-standing tradition of representing the computer and video game industry at the highest level on important policy issues."

In response to Altman's death, the ESA published a statement: "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." Gamers have Altman to thank not just for his work in building up Bethesda and other studios, but for what he has done for the video game industry as a whole.

Robert Altman attended White House meetings addressing video game violence

In March 2018, a White House meeting called for notable figures in the video game industry to join vocal supporters of gaming regulation in a discussion about video game violence. Robert Altman was in attendance, and this wasn't the first time Altman showed up to defend his industry.

Back in 2013, Altman, along with many other industry execs, was invited to meet with then-Vice President Joe Biden to discuss similar issues. Altman issued a statement following the meeting, where he praised the Administration's handling of the matter. He concluded by saying, "[W]hile video games have repeatedly been shown not to be a cause of criminal violence, we look forward to examining how we might work together, responsibly and effectively, to aid the Administration's important efforts."

Altman was not only involved in a very important discussion regarding gun violence in America, but he was committed to doing his part in finding a solution.