People have been trying to get VR to catch on since the early 90s when I was in college (see magazine cover from 1995 below, courtesy Sean Clark). Back then, it required a suit and a huge computer, ala "Lawnmower Man" -- I kid you not.
There was a company that brought VR games to campuses for a weekend -- these were basically triple-sized arcade games that you had to sit or stand in (in addition to wearing VR goggles and gloves). One tank game (not unlike "Spectre VR" if anybody remembers that) and I was hooked. And so were the teenagers that setup the equipment, with a tired look and bags under their eyes.
Fast forward to a few years ago... the idea to attach Google Cardboard to a phone made sense, because most people had phones already and the device was cheap. Oculus Rift could also be attached to a PC, if more computing power was needed.
Sidenote: I tested the Rift at Social Media Week in New York City this February, and was disappointed that it didn't have better resolution than Google Cardboard or the Samsung Gear, both of which I own (Gear shown below). We're not even up to Lawnmower Man standards here, man.
The holy grail, however, has been the all-in-one device, and with a price of $199, it could *maybe* catch on in the masses. Any more expensive and they'd rather get a better solution like PlayStation VR. Any cheaper, and it won't be able to have the power needed for basic VR. An all-in-one device can battle VR motion sickness by having close-to-zero delay from head movement to screen, which is one thing that has held Google Cardboard back.
What do YOU think?