Bungie has said it did not realise the meme it referenced on a piece of Destiny 2 armour had been appropriated by alt-right hate groups.
In a new blog post, Bungie said the armour had been designed in June 2015 and so it had missed the meme's more recent, "vile" connotations.
"Graphic designers routinely reference real world art, iconography, typeface, and other design elements to inform the choices they make," Bungie community manager David "Deej" Dague wrote. "In this case, some of the reference imagery featured the simple mirrored chevron shapes found in the finished piece."
Design elements belonging to sports teams and the chevrons which denote player classes were also referenced in the design, Dague added.
Notably, the armour design was flagged up during development by an external team responsible for picking up "sensitive" issues - but only in reference to the kek meme's origins. Kek began as a piece of World of Warcraft slang equivalent to "lol", and became common parlance on internet cesspool 4chan.
"Unfortunately, that review was conducted to explore whether or not we were comfortable with the connection to the original, innocuous 'kek' internet meme," Dague explained. "The more contemporary, vile derivation that has been repurposed by hate groups was not surfaced through this process, and therefore, the armor was approved for ship."
It is not known how the review picked up on the link to kek in the amour's design - which also features the more recent kek flag's green and white colour scheme - without mentioning kek's recent usage.
But the date of the armour's creation in mid 2015 is indeed before the term was linked to other alt-right symbols, such as fellow meme Pepe the Frog, and the alt-right's campaign for Donald Trump to win the 2016 US presidential elections.
Bungie said it was "still investigating our creative process in full" but there was "no degree of malicious intent from anyone on our team".
The armour design was partially removed from the game this week. It will be scrubbed entirely via another hotfix in the coming days.
"We want everyone to know their identity is welcome in our studio and in the worlds we create," Dague concluded. "This isn't merely a platitude, but an official pillar we hold ourselves, and our work to. It is also a clarion call for the type of people we want to bring into our studio to help us make better games.
"We aren't asking you for the benefit of the doubt. We know we are judged by our actions. We want to thank the members of our community, and the press, for bringing this matter to our attention. We will always strive to make all players feel welcome in our worlds, to promote positive experiences, and to portray a bright and hopeful world in Destiny 2, and in every game world we create."