Microsoft's next console does some "really cool stuff", according to GameStop executive J Paul Raines.
To date, Microsoft has not confirmed that it has a new console in the works, but it's kind of an open secret. Raines refused to give any details, but in a chat with GamesIndustry, was one of the first to make any kind of open reference to the new hardware beyond a brief mention of NDAs.
"We've been spending a lot of time with Microsoft, but we have to let them take the lead on this, but it will be a very hot, compelling device," he said.
"They are doing some really cool stuff, and I'm eager to hear them start their announcements because I think the world is going to stand up and take notice."
As online vendors and digital sales eat into the traditional retail market, hardware remains something bricks-and-mortar can rely on. The last two hardware launches - 3DS and Vita - have been somewhat disappointing for retailers, but Raines said next-gen consoles won't follow this trend, as many naysayers have predicted.
"I was talking to one of our founders, Dan DeMatteo, and he was telling me every console cycle you get people who will say 'there will never be another console,' or 'what else can the consoles do?' And we just believe it's a cycle and we just haven't had a new product in so long," he said.
"But we certainly don't believe that the new consoles won't be as exciting. There's a lot of demand for PS4, and I think there will be for the next Xbox as well, once it's announced."
Elsewhere in the interview, Raines said he doesn't expect digital to ever fully replace digital, and that GameStop's in-store digital content sales strategy is working. He wouldn't committ to the question of whether next-gen games will be priced above the traditional $60 US RRP, but did say he thinks publishers would like it.
Nobody knows when Microsoft will break cover on the next Xbox console, which is codenamed Durango and nicknamed Xbox 720. Rumours put the console down as having similar if slightly less grunty specs to the PlayStation 4, but with dedicated hardware modules for various processing tasks. More wild talk speaks of always-on Internet, mandatory installs, and an obligatory Kinect, but a fairly bogstandard controller. Best guesses put the reveal before E3 2012.