Why is the WebP generation not free anymore?
ShortPixel Image Optimizer has been supporting WebP generation for free, for years. Not only that, ShortPixel has been the only image optimization plugin offering free WebP creation and optimization in the cloud.
We started offering this for free, years ago, when WebP was barely supported by 5% of the browsers out there. Currently, according to Can I use..., almost 100% of the browsers support this format and ShortPixel is generating more than 5 million WebP images each and every day! On top of that, with our latest plugin version (4.22), we started offering AVIF image generation/optimization as well. You can read more about AVIF here.
Both these "next-gen" image formats, while being greatly appreciated by Search Engines, require a lot of processing power to be created. AVIF, in particular, requires anywhere from x10 to x100 more CPU to be generated when compared with a JPEG. We didn't want to charge 10 times more credits for each generated AVIF image so we decided to expand our infrastructure and start charging 1 credit for each WebP and/or AVIF image to make the whole operation sustainable for the years to come. This change will be active starting May 10th, 2021.
Notice that until now you were not able to deliver your WebP files without creating them first. With the most recent update, we have separated the two features: you can now create your AVIF and/or WebP files with any other tool and choose to deliver them with ShortPixel. This way you will not spend any additional credits.
Prior to ShortPixel Image Optimizer major update 5.0 released on June 14th, 2022, you were able to generate WebP/AVIF contingent on optimizing the images, as an interlinked action. Now, you can generate WebP/AVIF separately, even if you have already optimized your images with the plugin.