Steve has been playing before me, and is a higher level. Grouping with him was a pain when I was a low level since not only wasn't I that great at the game, but I was getting decimated by people with artifacts (It's pretty easy to feel the difference between an artifact Illidan and one without).
Bob just got his account, and now he is in the situtation I was in. He doesn't want to play with us because he just gets destroyed and it isn't fun.
Point #1: Artifacts make it harder to play with your friends = Un-fun.
Solution - Don't gate artifacts by level, and make it easy to access top tier ones even for low level characters. Or remove them completely.
I finally reached level 15 a few days ago, and since I like tanks like Muradin, I spent all my gold on artifacts that give health and health regen. I can play a tank competently, but every other type of hero is at a disadvantage because they don't have the correct artifact setup, so I try to play tanks as often as possible.
Point #2: Artifacts pigeonhole you into a role, and make it less likely people will go out of the comfort zone and experiment.
Solution - Make artifacts more accessible, so each player can access the ones they want with ease. Or remove them completely.
I have level 6 artifacts, and own no heroes. It will be a long while before I can afford a hero that I like to play.
Point #3: Artifacts aren't fun to buy, Heroes are! I should want to spend my gold, not do it because I'm forced to.
Solution - Make artifacts funner then stat increases. Make them ability modifiers, or pseudo talents. Or remove them completely.
In conclusion I have two separate suggestions:
1. Make artifacts more accessible, cheaper, and funner, and don't gate it behind a level requirment. I need to be able to play with my new friends. It's hard enough coming to a new moba.
2. Remove them completely. Seriously, the game was great before this patch. If you want more customization or gold sinks, or progression, I'm sure there is a better way to do it then this.