Reverb Publishing has agreed to a licensing deal with Epic Games that will allow the publisher’s development partners to make use of Epic’s omnipresent Unreal Engine 3 (UE3). Unrestrained access to the engine’s source code will now be at the disposal of all devs who release their titles under the Reverb banner.

“This UE3 site license gives Reverb another tool we can add to our menu of services for independent developers,” Reverb’s Vice President of Business Development, Katie Morgan, said of the arrangement.

The deal is the first of its kind between Epic and a publishing house that focuses solely on downloadable titles. Cary, North Carolina-based Epic’s UE3 has previously been used to power games as diverse as Mass Effect 3, Gears of War 3 (Unreal 3.5) and the Reverb-published Dungeon Defenders.

Although it won’t be the first time that a studio working with Reverb will build their game off of the middleware, it’s probably safe to assume that far more UE3-powered titles will now be arriving from the publisher going forward.

Epic North American Licensing Manager Joe Kreiner happily boasted of this latest notch in Unreal’s belt, explaining that the deal “ensures more Unreal Engine development teams are supported with the type of launch programs independent studios need to have a successful digital title.”

Unreal 3 remains the game engine of choice for the majority of developers and publishers who incorporate middleware into their titles and will likely remain so until this console generation runs its course. Still, the timing of the announcement is interesting in that it coincides with Epic showing off its successor, Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), in private to select parties attending Game Developers Conference 2012, currently taking place in San Francisco.

Of course, UE3 looks to remain relevant for several more years, as Epic is positioning the fourth full version of the engine to grab the spotlight during the next generation. When asked what to expect of UE4, Mark Rein, vice president of Epic, recently told G4 that those privileged enough to get a look at it “are going to be shocked.”