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343 Industries Apologizes For Halo Infinite Juneteenth Cosmetic With Offensive Name

Various developers at 343 Industries have apologized for a Halo Infinite Juneteenth cosmetic that was briefly named after an endangered ape, with head of creative Joseph Staten calling the mistake “inexcusable.”

The free cosmetic, which arrived on Tuesday as part of the game’s weekly shop refresh, was meant to celebrate the federal holiday that marks the end of slavery in the United States. The Juneteenth nameplate when it first arrived carried an optional color palette named Bonobo (an endangered species of great ape). This was quickly pointed out by Halo content creator Sean W, after which the emblem was renamed to “Freedom.”

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Sean. We strive to create diverse and inclusive gaming communities. While the original name refers to an internal toolset, it was not intended to be applied to this content and we recognize the harm it may have caused. (1/2)

— John Junyszek (@Unyshek) June 14, 2022

Halo senior community manager John Junyszek apologized for the name on Twitter, stating the name derived from an internal toolset but acknowledged “it was not intended to be applied to this content and we recognize the harm it may have caused.”

While the name was rapidly changed, the damage was already done. 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross said the studio and Halo franchise is committed to “inclusivity where everyone can be their true self,” and apologized “for making a celebrated moment a hurtful moment.” Staten, in his statement on Twitter, said he was “ashamed” 343 let the mistake happen.

Bonobo is indeed an internal development tool that has been used in Halo since the Bungie era of the franchise, as pointed out by Halo content creator Mint Blitz. That, however, doesn’t explain how the name of an asset-editing program used by 343 became the official name for an in-game cosmetic. The various developers who have publicly apologized for the mistake have not given details on how the mistake happened or what the studio will do to prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future.

Halo Infinite received its first mid-season “Drop Pod” update on Tuesday, bringing changes to ranked matchmaking, bug fixes, and adjustments to the game’s vehicles.

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