The benefactor system, also known as micropatronage, is a business model for free content, be it software or artwork, in which an author is supported and directly funded by the fanbase. The most profilic uses of the benefactor system in the free gaming community is by Jason Rohrer.
Like the Ransom model, this direct-investment model differs from most commercial models where investors will pay for the development a game and make money from sales. Instead, consumers invest directly in the production in the game they want to see completed or improved upon based on the makers' reputation. However, unlike the ransom business model, in which developers release the game once a certain amount of money has been pledged, the benefactor system relies on a group of donors to fund game development continuously. This allows developers to develop games indefinitely rather than hold one time sales for every game project.
The first known discussion of this business model in relation to free gaming is by Jason Rohrer in his essay Free Distribution in 2004. Although at the time, he did not produce any video games and the essay is not necessary only related to only game productions. However he would eventually use the business model for all of his future game development projects.