Is revenue towards further Development of a free game royalty-free?

I’d like to know where Epic stands on some of the following examples of earning revenue outside of game sales or in-game sales, and whether or not they would count as royalty-free. Specifically, I’d like clarification on their use of the term “in-game benefits.”

In these examples, I am strictly talking about a game that will be, or is released, entirely free to access, with no in-game purchases and ad-free.

From what I understand, royalties only apply towards game sales, and in-game benefits. Receiving money out of appreciation for works is entirely royalty-free. However, what about receiving money on the premise of future features or updates, which would be released entirely free-to-everyone? What if you accept money for specific feature requests to be added into the game, entirely free-to-everyone? Does that count as an “in-game benefit?”

There are a few scenarios where this might be the case. People using Patreon, or perhaps their own solution for tracking feature requests. Maybe even allowing people to attach a note to their donations.

A bigger scenario would be a Kickstarter project. From what I understand, you only owe royalties for the game and possible in-game values that you offer. So what if the Kickstarter was for the development of an entirely free game, with stretch goals on the promise of implementing a feature if it reaches a high enough funding?

Paying for a feature to be added or further development of a game, I can see this being viewed as an “in-game benefit.” I understand Epic’s use of the term is probably not meant to be interpreted that way as opposed to an already in-game benefit or purchase. However, “probably” doesn’t really work well in legal issues, and I would like clarification on whether or not any of these scenarios would be royalty-free.

If someone donated money so that the would feature blue ninjas in addition to red ninjas, but the blue ninjas would be freely available to everyone, that’s still a pure donation with no royalty-bearing in-game benefit.

So just for complete clarification, accepting money for additional feature development on an otherwise free and already available product is not royalty-bearing.

Right - if that money doesn’t get them something everybody else can get for free, there is no royalty.