I was chatting with a Japanese colleague earlier about the fact that the FFXIV Nico Nico stream had a degree of success that I didn't expect, with more than 60k viewers that are quite a lot for a stream in Japanese that wasn't very much publicized internationally.
She told me "yeah, with Sword Art Online, everyone is crazy for MMORPGs again in Japan now".
Very possibly, she's right, Japan is very sensitive to this kind of influence, and I can definitely see how a popular anime/manga/novel series could have raised the "cool factor" of MMOs, especially one made locally like FFXIV.
It's interesting that there are already rather strong rumors of a second SAO anime series to be released in the summer season. That'd sure be convenient, even if the next arc of the story is set on a gun-based MMO.