Bungie has said that reference to a character named 'Maddie' in the new Halo game is a "regrettable coincidence" to the similarity of missing five year-old Madeleine McCann.
Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz, the studio's community and PR director Brian Jarrard expanded on comments he left on an online forum last week, after fans spotted the line "Maddie, where are you?" in the latest trailer for the game and linked it to the disappearance of the missing girl which made international headlines last year.
"There's really no more light to be shed here - it's simply a regrettable coincidence," said Jarrard.
"There is no connection between our game and the tragic incident that occurred last year.
"All the characters in our game, which takes place 500 years in the future, are completely fictional. In this case, real world events that occurred during game development have led to an unintended public context for this character," he added.
Industry commentators have questioned the developer for including the name in a heavily hyped trailer released last week, suggesting that even as a coincidence to world events it shows poor judgement or even ignorance by Bungie in a wider cultural context.
Microsoft, which will be publishing the game on Xbox 360 under the Microsoft Game Studios brand, has been silent on the matter, refusing to acknowledge the reference to world events and ignoring requests for comment from GamesIndustry.biz, simply offering: "Speculation that a tagline in the video, 'Maddie, where are you?' refers to a plot element is correct."