(Pocket-lint) - A change is afoot for gamers looking to take their Xbox action online, with Microsoft making the interesting decision to stop selling annual codes for Xbox Live Gold passes. 

Coming soon after the giant confirmed that it was stopping production of the Xbox One X and One S All-Digital Edition, it seems to be part of a movement to get its supply chain and offering ready for its next-generation push.

You can still buy Xbox Live Gold passes for a single month or three months, but no longer for the long term, and the alternative is pretty clear. Microsoft would obviously rather you go for an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership, which nabs you both your Xbox Live multiplayer privileges and a roster of games to play at will on top. 

The economics work out pretty decently, given that Game Pass really isn't too much more expensive each month, but it's fair to say that this is nonetheless a narrowing of the options available. If you were keeping costs to a minimum while gaming online, you might have to find another way around things. 

Microsoft also recently confirmed that Game Pass Ultimate would be getting the streaming wing of its offering free of charge starting later this year, with a presumably renamed Project xCloud coming to the service. All of this adds up to make it clear that Game Pass Ultimate is entirely central to Xbox's plans for the next few years. 

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Writing by Max Freeman-Mills.